On Wednesday 12 June 2013 David Willetts hosted the G8 science ministers at the Royal Society to look at key scientific challenges. For the first time the meeting also included heads of national academies.
At the top of the agenda was dealing with global challenges, namely antibiotic resistance in medicine, and how governments can work together to develop new antibiotics and employ them more wisely.
Antibiotics are the cornerstone of modern medicine. But due to the spread of bacteria that are resistant to several drugs, a scenario is fast approaching in which many everyday infections will become untreatable. This will make routine medical care such as hip replacements and chemotherapy much riskier. Resistance to earlier generation anti-malarial medicines is widespread in most countries where the disease is endemic.
However the number of new antibiotics in development is at an all time low and the overuse of antibiotics is driving up resistance.
Following the meeting, the group issued a statement, signed by all G8 members. They agreed to work together in a global effort to develop new antibiotics and technologies for quicker diagnosis and more targeted treatments.
They also discussed other pressing global challenges, including climate change, energy security and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
The statement recognises the role that science has to play in securing present and future sustainable growth. It also proposes new areas for the G8 to work together and collaborate on, including global research infrastructure, open scientific research data, and expanding access to scientific research results.
Read the G8 Science Minister’s written statement