When the drugs won’t work: Antimicrobial resistance and the future of medicine

Jun 28, 2017 | REPORTS

This information report provides an introduction to antimicrobial resistance, and the role each of us can play to help prevent medicine being ‘plunged back into the dark ages’.

On the 21st September 2016, the UN dedicated a day to a high-level discussion on an issue Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned ‘will undermine sustainable food production, put the sustainable development goals in jeopardy and make providing high-quality universal health coverage more difficult, if not impossible’.

The UN’s meeting on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was only the fourth in its history to be held on a health issue, an issue which has been described by senior medical professionals as ‘an unprecedented threat to human health’.

On 16th November 2016, the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) assembled policy makers, medical professionals, industry and patient group representatives to consider the role of supranational organisations,
Governments, medical professionals and individuals in preventing the rise of AMR.

‘The Jack Watters debate: Tackling antimicrobial resistance in an ageing society’ was dedicated to a long term supporter of the ILC-UK, and a pioneer in championing the health and well-being of ageing people, Dr Jack Watters.

This information resource, produced with the support of Pfizer, seeks to provide an introduction to AMR: what it is, how it occurs, and the nature of the threat it poses to humanity and modern medicine. It summarises what was discussed at the Jack Watters debate, and concludes by exploring what each of us, either as policy makers, medical innovators or private individuals can do to prevent medicine being ‘plunged back into the dark ages’.

Report author Dave Eaton, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, ILC-UK said:

“We know that the rise of antimicrobial resistance could lead to up to 10 million deaths a year worldwide by 2050. However, it’s not just Governments and medical professionals who have a role to play in preventing the spread of AMR.

Each and every one of us can help reduce the risk of infection through good hygiene, like proper handwashing technique; through completing all courses of antibiotics and not requesting them for things like colds or sore throats; and through checking to see which vaccines we are eligible for, and keeping an up-to date vaccination record.”