Coalition issues rallying cry to takes the fight against AMR to the front line
Team up, wake up, and act before AMR turns back the clock on medical advances, say the cross-sector team behind the Infection Management Coalition.
It’s time for the entire healthcare ecosystem to come together and stop procrastinating on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – or risk sleepwalking into an uncontrollable existential crisis.
That’s according to some of the leading voices behind a whitepaper from the newly formed Infection Management Coalition (IMC), which calls on society to wake up and take action on the impending “silent pandemic” that could dwarf the impact of COVID-19.
The World Health Organization has warned that, unabated, AMR could kill 10 million people every year by 2050. Chief Executive of the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA), Doris-Ann Williams, called it “the stuff of nightmares”.
“Imagine a future, in my lifetime, where we have no antibiotics or antifungal drugs, so healthcare goes back to early mortality rates of 100 years ago. Simple wounds, surgeries, childbirth, and complications from illnesses like respiratory infections would become a death sentence,” she tells pharmaphorum.
“I feel that, in the developed world, we sleepwalked into the current pandemic. If we learn nothing else it is that we can’t keep procrastinating on the global AMR threat. We need to become much more active and develop a sense of urgency now.”
Unlike many of its predecessors, then, this document is not merely an exercise in raising awareness. Rather, it sets out a tangible road map of action, written by coalition members from across policymaking, academia, healthcare, and industry.
Lee Durnall, Public Affairs Manager at Menarini UK, says: “The whitepaper makes clear recommendations on prevention and preparedness with proposed owners and timelines. It offers practical solutions that are achievable, most of which can be put in place immediately.”
The central theme is a focus on the core pillars of infection management, namely outbreak and pandemic preparedness; infection prevention; the rapid detection, diagnosis, and treatment of time-critical infections; and antimicrobial stewardship.
Recommendations include the more streamlined development of new therapeutics, and the more thorough collection of outcomes and prescribing data. The coalition also calls for the addition of AMR mortality and death certification codes, and the adoption of advanced rapid diagnostics.
The ultimate aim, says Ron Daniels, Founder and Joint CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust, is for the recommendations to be adopted by the UK and devolved governments at a policy level.
“It will pave the way for a transformational approach to infection management, placing the patient at its centre, allowing intelligence to be acquired, ensuring diagnostics are integrated seamlessly into clinical systems, driving the responsible use of antimicrobials, and better supporting survivors,” he says.
Through this holistic approach, the coalition envisages a future where “outcomes are vastly improved and the rise of AMR slowed” – and in which the learnings can be transferred to other countries, including low-to-middle-income nations where, arguably, they are needed most.
Coalition of the willing
Tackling a problem on the scale of AMR will take the whole of society, say members of the IMC, which is the first cross-sector coalition of its kind.
“This is a hugely complex, global problem which needs tackling from a variety of angles. Having a team from different focuses of the life science and healthcare industries is essential – and it also helps to create a louder voice to the key stakeholders, such as government,” says Williams.
“BIVDA really hope that the white paper will help inform UK policy makers and give them areas to focus on which we, as a coalition, see as critical to start moving this issue forward.”
As COVID clearly demonstrated, no one section of the healthcare community – whether that’s clinicians, advocacy groups, or industry – can solve a wholescale public health emergency alone.
Applying the same collaborative model to AMR is the key to success, added Daniels, whose organisation proposed the whitepaper and convened its working group.
“It has to be driven by a coalition of industry actors, the third sector, clinical bodies and key opinion leaders together with policymakers.
“By working together in true collaboration, we can ensure not only that the process remains patient focused, but also that it is deliverable at a clinical level and benefits from the context-sensitive design of state-of-the-art vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.”
Greg Quinn, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy UKI Public Affairs at medtech company BD agreed, explaining that ensuring effective action “at all points of the AMR roadmap” could only be achieved if the sector pooled its expertise.
“AMR requires a coordinated effort, with contributions from all sectors, including the private sector. The fight starts with prevention, focuses through surveillance, takes action with diagnostics, and is further addressed by strong stewardship,” he says.
High hopes for future action
The alliance behind the report, Quinn explained, is about bringing the scientific community together and the document aims to “build coalitions, integrate stakeholders’ objectives, and define action”.
In short, it’s about moving the battle against AMR onto the frontline. Because, as Durnall says, a united approach – between industry, the NHS, health and social care workers and civil society – is very much needed to overcome this hidden pandemic. And it needs to happen now.
About the author
Amanda Barrell is a freelance health and medical education journalist, editor and copywriter. She has worked on projects for pharma, charities and agencies, and has written extensively for patients, HCPs and the public.