Taking one step further in their fight against drug resistant infections the UK and India came together once again.
Dame Sally Davies, UK Chief Medical Officer (CMO), and an international champion in the fight against anti microbial resistance and Hala Audi, lead for the Lord O’Neill review of AMR, visited New Delhi from 23 to 26 February to participate in Indian government’s landmark antimicrobial resistance conclave. They were joined by Tamar Ghosh, lead for the Longitude Prize – the UK government’s £10 million prize to tackle AMR.
UK’s Chief Medical Officer was the keynote speaker at the 3-day international conclave on AMR. At the conclave, Indian Union Minister for Heath, Sri JP Nadda, announced that AMR was the world’s number one public health challenge and stressed the importance of prevention including Indian government’s Swacch Bharat (Clean India) campaign and the universal immunisation programme. He also launched a ‘Red Line’ campaign across traditional and social media, aimed at stopping the misuse of antibiotics.
At the conclave, the CMO and other UK participants met with, health ministers from across South East Asia and with, the senior leadership of the World Health Organisation to discuss possible action in the region to combat AMR, and how UK could support this. Other countries represented at the conclave were the US, France, Japan, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
While in India, the CMO had an engaging discussion with Dr. Panagariya, India’s G20 Sherpa, on the economics of AMR, and why it requires action from the G20. Panagariya showed particular interest in price mechanisms, controlling manufacturing pollution, and a global awareness campaign. He also committed to having his team engage more closely with Lord O’Neill’s team on AMR at the G20. The CMO met leaders from the bureaucratic and scientific community, including the Chief Scientific Adviser to the government, Dr. Chidambaram, as well as top officials from Department of Biotechnology, Department of Health Research, Department of Health and Family Welfare, and Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries with whom she discussed the importance of coordinated, cross-sectoral action to combat AMR. The Secretary, Ministry of Health, expressed interest in India to becoming one of the leaders of the ‘Friends on AMR’ group. A key theme emerging from all of the CMO’s meetings in India was the need to share information and for stronger, cross-sectoral coordination within India.
The CMO also gave a keynote address at the 17th International Congress on Infectious Diseases (ICID) in Hyderabad, speaking to more than 1600 participants at this conference, which has come to the Indian subcontinent for the first time. At this global conference, she focused on the problem of AMR, and how policy and actions need to be framed and implemented to tackle it.
AMR or ‘antimicrobial resistance’ is the term used to describe drug-resistant infections, sometimes referred to as ‘superbugs’. Antimicrobials include antibiotics (which act only on bacteria), antivirals, antiparasitics and antifungals.
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