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193 countries sign UN declaration to fight drug-resistant infection

Published on 22/09/16 at 10:46am

A historic UN declaration to fight drug-resistant infection across the globe has been signed by 193 countries at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The agreement follows a worldwide campaign led by chief medical officer professor Dame Sally Davies and health secretary Jeremy Hunt to highlight the threat that drug-resistance poses to modern medicine. Under its effects, some infections could become untreatable, chemotherapy would become impossible and simple surgeries could be life-threatening.

This marks only the fourth health-related UN declaration, with other interventions focused on HIV, non-communicable disease and ebola.

The declaration states that, in addition to prioritising the fight against drug-resistant infection, signees 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, and improve rapid diagnostics.
  • Conduct awareness-raising activities to educate health professionals and the public on how to prevent drug resistant infections.

It is estimated that drug-resistant infections take over 700,000 lives a year, with TB, HIV and malaria among the top killers. It is predicted that, if left unchecked, this will grow to 10 million deaths a year and cost the worldwide economy $100 trillion by 2050.

Davies commented: "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...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."

Matt Fellows

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