Professor Colin Garner, Chief Executive of Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK), the world’s first charity tackling bacterial antibiotic resistance welcomes the initiatives announced at the UN General Assembly and the G20 meeting.
Professor Garner says: “Lord Jim O’Neill and his team have been pivotal in raising awareness of the problem of antibiotic resistance. However, even in a country as sophisticated as the UK, we still do not really know the scale of the antibiotic resistance problem. Many of the O’Neill team’s recommendations, and those now from the G20 and the UNGA, need to be enacted at a national level to avoid an AMR crisis. The UK needs to do more and they need to integrate charities into the solution. Antibiotic Research UK is already progressing with its mission to find new antibiotic therapies, with its first research programme underway and results expected by the end of 2016.”
Antibiotic Research UK urges the Government to:
- Make antibiotic resistant infections notifiable by setting up a national Antibiotic Resistance Register in the same way that we have Cancer Registers. This way we can start to get a better picture of the scale of the problem.
- Fund a pilot research study where postmortem samples are analysed for the presence of antibiotic resistant organisms. We believe there is significant under-reporting of antibiotic resistant infections. For example, the number of deaths quoted annually from antibiotic resistant infections is 5000 in the UK and yet patients dying from pneumonia, sepsis and general organ failure is much higher – a significant proportion of these deaths are likely due to antibiotic resistant infections.
- Look at the problem of antibiotic resistant infections holistically. To do so requires a cross-department committee to be created, which includes agriculture, the environment, health, education and defence. This committee should oversee national UK policies and should involve UK regional governments, professionals, the public and patients.
- Beef up public and professional education programmes. The introduction of the Quality Premium is a step in the right direction but all prescribers of antibiotics including GPs, dentists, vets and hospital doctors need to participate in antibiotic reduction programmes, infection and prevention control programmes, introduce point of care tests to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections. The PHE is doing a great job but it is substantially under-resourced. It is not possible to do more and more with less and less.
- Work with national governments across the world including the EU to drive down antibiotic consumption in human medicine and agriculture.
- Ensure that more young scientists come into the antibiotic resistance field.
The formation of ANTRUK came about because UK expert scientists and clinicians knew that AMR was on the rise and that insufficient funding was available to meet the problem. Whilst these recent global AMR announcements are to be welcomed it remains the case that little new money has been released to match the scale of the problem.
Antibiotic Research UK’s mission is to develop new antibiotic therapies, to educate the public and professionals about antibiotic resistance and to provide patient support and information.
Lord Jim O’Neill will give the charity’s Inaugural Lecture on 24 October 2016 at Portcullis House, London where a few places are still available. If you would like to attend or require further information, please get in touch on ANTRUK@brightbee.co.uk or 020 8819 3170.