UN delegates in 'landmark' agreement to tackle threat of antimicrobial resistance

A nurse prepares antibiotics for a drip. Credit: PA

UN delegates will sign a "landmark" declaration agreeing to help tackle the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), health officials have said.

The agreement comes after a UK drive to raise global awareness of the threat posed to modern medicine by AMR.

Antibiotics are the best known type of antimicrobial drug (drugs which destroy harmful microbes), but there are others - such as antivirals, antimalarial drugs and antifungals.

If antibiotics lose their effectiveness then key medical procedures, such as gut surgery, caesareans, joint replacements and chemotherapy, could all become too dangerous to perform.

Around 700,000 people around the world die annually due to drug-resistant infections such as TB, HIV, and malaria. However, if not action is taken, it is estimated that drug-resistant infections will kill 10 million people per year by 2050.

The declaration will be signed by officials from 193 countries at the United Nationals General Assembly in New York.

The signatories will agree to:

  • Develop surveillance and regulatory systems on the use and sales of antimicrobial medicines for humans and animals.

  • Encourage innovative ways to develop new antibiotics.

  • Raise awareness on how to prevent drug resistant infections.

Global leaders have pledged £610 million to help tackle AMR.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer, said: "This declaration is the culmination of six years of hard work and I am extremely proud that every UN member state is now engaged in the enormous task of tackling the greatest future threat to our civilisation.

"Drug-resistant infections are firmly on the global agenda, but now the real work begins. We need governments, the pharmaceutical industry, health professionals and the agricultural sector to follow through on their commitments to save modern medicine."