Science & Tech

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and the Pandemic Treaty

  • Pandemic Treaty: At the World Health Assembly, the current version of the draught Pandemic Instrument, popularly known as the “pandemic treaty,” was shared with Member States.
  • Removal of AMR References: It became clear that any mention of antibiotic resistance in the Pandemic Instrument would be removed.

What exactly is AMR?

  • The development of resistance in microbes to medications that were earlier successful against them is known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • Microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites can develop “immune” responses to drugs designed to kill or control them.
  • Antibiotic misuse or overuse can lead to the development of AMR.

About the Pandemic Treaty

  • Initiation of Work on the Pandemic Treaty: Work on the Pandemic Instrument began in December 2021.
  • Under the WHO’s Constitution, the instrument’s goal is to protect nations and communities from future pandemic events.

The Importance of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

  • Calls for Inclusion: Civil society and professionals, including the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, have urged the Pandemic Instrument to include AMR.
  • Viruses are not the only ones: Not all pandemics, past or future, are produced by viruses; bacterial pandemics such as plague and cholera are deadly examples.
  • Bacterial infections kill one out of every eight people worldwide and contribute to the emergence of drug-resistant diseases.

Comprehensive Pandemic Preparedness is Required

  • A broader range of threats: It is critical to plan for and create effective methods to respond to a broader variety of pandemic risks than viruses.
  • Secondary Bacterial Infections: Even in viral pandemics like as COVID-19, secondary bacterial infections constitute a severe problem that necessitates the use of efficient antibiotics.

Concerns about the Potential Removal of AMR Measures

  • Pose a Risk of Future Pandemics: The omission of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) measures from the Pandemic Instrument may impede attempts to safeguard people from future pandemics.
  • At-Risk Measures: At-risk measures include improved access to safe drinking water, infection prevention and control, integrated surveillance, and antimicrobial stewardship.

Improving the Pandemic Instrument to Combat AMR

  • AMR Measures Inclusion: AMR measures are simply added into the Pandemic Instrument.
  • Recommendations for Inclusion include dealing with bacterial pathogens, tracking viral and bacterial threats, and harmonising AMR stewardship regulations.

AMR Highlighting in the Pandemic Instrument

  • Specialised Organisations engaged: Civil society and research organisations engaged in the WHO’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, offering AMR analysis in the draught.
  • Special Edition Publication: A special edition emphasising the necessity of addressing AMR in the Pandemic Instrument was released by leading academic researchers and specialists.

The Current Situation and Next Steps

  • Concerns about Removal: AMR-related insertions may be removed following closed-door agreements by Member States.
  • The Pandemic Instrument is critical for minimising AMR and preserving antimicrobials for treating secondary illnesses in pandemics.
  • Global Political Action: To fight AMR and ensure the conservation and equitable distribution of safe and effective antimicrobials, collaboration and joint efforts are required.

Protecting Antimicrobials for Future Pandemic Response

  • Undermining Objectives: The Pandemic Instrument’s failure to address AMR weakens its broader goals of protecting nations and communities.
  • Antimicrobials’ Primary Function: Antimicrobials are critical resources for dealing with pandemics and must be safeguarded.
  • Call for Tougher Measures: Member States should increase antimicrobial safeguards and support steps to preserve their efficacy within the instrument.
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