Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. It is estimated that over 700,000 people die each year across the world from drug resistant infections, with over 25,000 deaths in Europe and a similar number in the USA. AMR is an increasingly serious threat to global public health as the inability to treat common infectious diseases can result in prolonged illness, disability, and death. Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery become very high risk.
Following Professor Dame Sally Davies presenting the charity’s 2017 Annual Lecture, the charity made contact with her outlining a number of proposals arising from the charity’s Five Point Action Plan (see https://www.antibioticresearch.org.uk/antibiotic-research-uk-announces-five-point-action-plan-tackle-amr/). One of the action points proposed was to discuss the formation of a UK focussed GRAND ALLIANCE of stakeholders including charities whose patients are impacted by antibiotic resistance. We are delighted that Dame Sally agreed to our suggestion and proposed, together with ourselves, convening a roundtable in the UK between Chief Executives and senior leaders of charities to discuss what might be done collaboratively. Dame Sally writes ‘Tackling antibiotic resistance requires a multi-stakeholder approach where government, academia, professionals, industry, charities and the general public are working together locally, nationally and internationally to ensure that future patients and our children and grandchildren enjoy the same benefits of antibiotics that we have enjoyed.
However, the link with the charities is missing and a greater focus on patients is needed and increased accountability to the public. I believe our UK charity sector, which has a fantastic track record in improving health, has a major role to play in tackling AMR and could also provide a model internationally for other countries to follow.’
Dame Sally will chair the roundtable meeting which will take place in London on Tuesday 15th May 2018. Chief Executives invited include medical research charities focussing on cancer, heart, lung and bowel disease, veterans’ charities, orphan diseases such as cystic fibrosis and childhood cancers (28 charities in total).
The meeting will include presentations made by Professor Sir Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK who will talk about how his charity engages with patients; Dr Anne Lise Ryel, Secretary General of the Norwegian Cancer Society, who are working with the Norwegian government to tackle resistance; and Mr David Ramsden of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, a charity whose patients are dependent on effective antibiotics. Professor Colin Garner, Antibiotic Research UK will talk about some of the challenges and opportunities in hearing AMR patients’ voices.
The meeting will be held under The Chatham House Rule. Professor Colin Garner commented ‘I very much hope that this meeting is a first step in getting the charity sector to work together on AMR. The UK has been at the forefront of highlighting the global AMR issue and I am keen to see UK Third Sector organisations play a pivotal role in tackling the problem.’
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