The Global Superbug Crisis: Join our event in Westminster

The Bureau is bringing together scientists, doctors, veterinarians, animal industry groups, patient groups, journalists, MPs and government officials at Westminster next Wednesday 31 January at 10.00am to discuss how to tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance or AMR.

The distinguished panel includes:

  • Introduction from Dame Sally Davies: Chief Medical Officer for England
  • Lord Jim O’Neill: Chair of Review on Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Dr Thomas Van Boeckel, spatial epidemiologist, ETH Zurich
  • Dr James Tibenderana, Global Technical Director, Malaria Consortium
  • Dr Clare Chandler, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's AMR Centre

Drug resistance has been called one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development by the World Health Organization. Overuse of antimicrobial drugs - which includes antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals – has increased the rate at which bugs are becoming immune to them.

We often forget that antibiotics are relatively new. Before the widespread use of  of antibiotics in the 1940s, seemingly benign infections often killed. People died after scratching themselves gardening; childbirth was life-threatening and STIs were disfiguring and deadly. Modern health systems now rely on antibiotics. When people undergo joint replacements, bowel surgery, C-sections, organ transplants or chemotherapy for cancer they are vulnerable to catching infection. Antibiotics allow for these procedures to happen; if they stop working half a century of medical progress could be reversed.

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While much of the conversation about AMR so far has focused on the danger of resistance in the rich world, the impacts of drug resistance in economically-developing countries could be far worse, hobbling the entire health system.  

Parts of Asia and Africa are still struggling with epidemics of HIV, TB and malaria. Their health budgets cannot absorb the increased costs of treating resistant infections, which require longer hospital stays, more expensive drugs and more medical complications. The problem will not only overburden their already-stretched health systems but could derail economic development.

We need solutions – and fast. The Bureau is grateful for the help of Kevin Hollinrake MP who is hosting an event in the British parliament to discuss the issue and Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, for her introductory message.

The panel talk will feature:

  • Lord Jim O’Neill, who chaired the influential Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. He will talk about what has been done since his 2016 report – and what hasn’t.
  • Dr Clare Chandler, a medical anthropologist and co director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Antimicrobial Resistance Centre, will describe how people view antimicrobials in developing countries – and why improving infrastructure and water supplies is so crucial to addressing the problem.
  • Dr James Tibenderana, global technical director at the Malaria Consortium, spent years running health programmes in Uganda and now has a global role. He will describe how AMR affects low income countries – and what we need to do to turn government strategies into action.
  • Dr Thomas Van Boeckel, spatial epidemiologist at ETH Zurich, who published the only study looking into antimicrobial use in livestock globally. His modelling showed the amount used in animals worldwide is set to rise by 53% by 2030 – and he suggests policy changes like taxes on meat to curb this.

After giving their speeches, the panel will take comments and questions from the floor. By bringing a range of specialisms together we hope for an informed and lively debate which will spark change.

Please join us on Wednesday 31 January 10am at Portcullis House. Spaces are limited so email [email protected] to RSVP.

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