The Chief Medical Officer’s talk in the Attlee Room of Portcullis House, Westminster, focused on her journey from her first publication on AMR in 2011, to the current state of antibiotic resistance. Dame Sally’s talk also sounded a call to action in response to antibiotic resistance for those attending, and for the general public.
“Even I was surprised by the size of the problem”, said Dame Sally, referring back to a time when she was learning about antibiotic resistance. “People are already dying. It is not understood that people are dying from this.”
Speaking about government action in dealing with AMR, Dame Sally explained: “It doesn’t matter what government is in place – this has to be a priority for them. If we don’t have the political will, it will flounder, in this country, and globally. It’s very easy to make a political commitment. How do you translate that into action?”
She added: “I am worried about going forwards. Who’s the leadership going to come from? We’re only going to get it right if we have the power of the people with us. We need this happening across the globe. We need the public to demand change, both publicly and privately, so that politicians are prepared to take action.”
“I want to face my children and grandchildren to be able to say ‘we had a crack at this’,” explained Dame Sally, as she called on the public to take a more active stance in the fight against AMR. “What are you going to do differently?” she asked. “You can all make a difference in ways that I can’t. We have so much more to do and you can do it.”
Alluding to Antibiotic Research UK, Dame Sally noted: “Everyone has a role to play and ANTRUK has a key role in this country…We need ANTRUK. We need ANTRUK for the things I can’t do.”
Chief Executive of Antibiotic Research UK, Professor Colin Garner, also spoke at the charity’s Annual Lecture: “The world has started to wake up to the problem but in my view not quickly enough. The UK has been at the forefront of this crusade but too little action on the ground is being undertaken. The amounts of money spent on all aspects of antibiotic resistance pale into insignificance compared with what we spend on cancer for example.”
“Time is not on our side,” noted Professor Garner.