According to the CDC, in the U.S. alone, at least 23,000 people die each year from the more than two million resistant infections that occur
In September 2016, world leaders convened at the UN General Assembly to discuss antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at a high-level meeting. This represented only the fourth time in history that a health topic has been the primary focus at a UN high-level meeting. All 193 member states signed on to combating AMR through a declaration to reverse the devastating trend that has resulted from the inappropriate use of antibiotics.
Two years on, in September 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), introduced The AMR Challenge – a global initiative to combat the growing threat of antibiotic resistance – encouraging global leaders to make a formal commitment to further progress against antibiotic resistance. Over the course of a year, the initiative received nearly 350 commitments from 33 countries to implement specific actions to combat antibiotic resistance. The challenge encourages a One Health approach, recognizing that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment.
This year, on September 23, 2019, during the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, American Society for Microbiology, Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Coalition (mobilized by BD), and the CDC Foundation co-hosted a UNGA side-event, attended by industry and world leaders, to celebrate the year-long success of The AMR Challenge. The key themes of the event were “Celebrating Antimicrobial Resistance Fighters” and “AMR and the Arts”. It featured artists from around the world, who told their stories of AMR through photography, dance, photorealism print, textiles, comics and film. The art focused on the progression and impact of AMR on a local and global level.
This event also served as the U.S. premiere of the Resistance Fighters documentary. The film describes itself as “a scientific thriller that investigates the destructive power of multi-resistant bacteria.” Its director had a personal experience with a bacterial infection that inspired the production.
Speakers included Alex Azar, HHS Secretary; Juan Pablo Uribe Restrepo, Colombian Minister of Health and Social Protection; Regional Director of the World Health Organization South-East Asia Region Poonam Khetrapal Singh; and David Ricci, who survived an antibiotic-resistant infection.
The Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Coalition (ARFC) aims to substantially increase awareness of AMR and encourage action across a wide range of stakeholders, including policymakers, health agencies and officials, advocacy groups, NGOs, clinicians, patients and family members. Coalition members form a community of like-minded organizations, leaders and individuals united in their commitment to address the threat and burden of AMR.
“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest global health challenges today; it is a global issue that can affect anyone, of any age, in any country. More than 700,000 people die every year of drug resistant infection, and the time to act is now. The UNGA side event couldn’t have been held at a better time to highlight the impact of antibiotic resistance on the world and the need for greater awareness and continued engagement on the topic.” – Ochuko Keyamo-Onyige
*embed a YouTube video from ARFC YouTube page*
The ARFC recently launched a YouTube page, which features testimonials from AMR advocates around the world, such as the video above. Also, following an early sighting during the UNGA AMR Challenge event, the Wellcome Trust has launched ‘Reframing Resistance’ – a new report outlining the most powerful ways to communicate about AMR to aid understanding and inspire action. Learn more about the ARFC at its newly-launched website http://antimicrobialresistancefighters.org and Facebook and Twitter pages. Among other things, the website features an interactive map that allows viewers to identify and see messages of AMR Fighters from around the world. The ARFC will also be launching a new quarterly newsletter beginning this fall.
BD (Becton Dickinson) is a supporter of efforts against AMR such as the ARFC, and demonstrates the potential for private sector companies to have a positive effect on Global Health. In recognition of these efforts, BD was ranked #15 on Fortune’s list of companies that “Change the World.”
BD was selected for this year’s list based on its expansive global efforts and investments to combat the threat of AMR. BD’s companywide AMR team, comprised of 40 BD associates from throughout the world, meets monthly to engage, plan, align and execute the various components of the company’s AMR strategy, including:
- Improving AMR-related awareness, education and training
- Strengthening evidence through surveillance and research
- Supporting programs to reduce the incidence of infection
- Advancing diagnostic testing to support optimal use of antimicrobial drugs
To further advance its potential for positive impact, BD engages with leading health agencies, foundations and other organizations around the world that are also committed to combatting AMR. The magnitude of this threat requires effective collaboration across sectors – governments, health agencies, nonprofit organizations and companies – and BD is among the leading organizations engaged in this manner. Gary Cohen, who serves as Executive Vice President, Global Health at BD, President of the BD Foundation and Co-Chair of GBCHealth, is the founder of the ARFC.
“If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we cast back into the dark ages of medicine” – David Cameron, former UK Prime Minister