Tackling AMR: A high-level interactive dialogue

29 Apr 2021

Participants from our AMR Voices series join the General Assembly to address challenges to tackling AMR as part of future pandemic preparedness. 

Today, we sent a video from five people to the United Nations High-Level Interactive Dialogue on Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) to speak out about their personal experience with tackling antibiotic-resistant infections. For them the antibiotic crisis is not abstract, they have already seen first-hand what happens when there are no antibiotics that work to treat an infection. Their voices will help sound the alarm about the lack of attention being placed on the antibiotic resistance crisis and how continued inaction could return us to the pre-antibiotic age. An age when, for example, you might survive an operation but would later die because of an untreatable post-operative infection. 

These people have seen first-hand, either as patients or as health professionals, the suffering and life-threatening consequences of what happens when multidrug resistant bacteria take over.  The AMR crisis is slowly building and without a massive multi-pronged response over many years, more and more people will experience similar life-threatening infections.  

Amplifying the voices of those with AMR experience

The Longitude Prize set out to gather stories of survivors and medical professionals that have intimate knowledge of superbugs and, through the creation of a report called AMR Voices, sought to connect the AMR and Covid-19 agendas. Individuals sharing their stories with the UN this week are from the UK, US, South Africa and India. We captured what people living with drug-resistant infections — and those who have overcome them — think needs to change when it comes to acting on this “slow-moving” pandemic. 

Statistical models, reports and policy briefs all have their place in building the evidence to inspire and spur action but the most impactful accounts come from those who have experienced this phenomenon of multidrug resistance first hand.   

Here are their stories: 

  • Ronda Winsor in the UK had laparoscopic surgery for enfometoriss – after surgery Ronda developed a urinary tract infection that led to urosepsis. Everyday, Ronda lives in fear that she is one step away from sepsis, and two steps away from death.
  • When Dr Abdul Ghafur caught Covid-19 in India, he was admitted into intense care. His biggest fear was being intubated and put on a ventilator which increased his risk of catching a hospital acquired pneumonia multidrug resistant bacterial infection, not Covid-19.
  • Vanessa Carter had a serious car accident in South Africa with devastated injuries to her stomach and face. In hospital, Vanessa caught a recurring infection after multiple implant procedures on her face. Vanessa reflects that over a year ago we did not know what the term ‘coronavirus’ was? How did we get the public to that point? And why can’t we get them to that point with the term AMR?
  • Pranav Johri from India highlights that we have never had a vaccine rollout within a matter of months from finding a new pathogen.  AMR has been around for decades. People who are already suffering from AMR, are suffering at the same personal level as Covid-19.
  • Mary Millard was admitted to hospital in the USA for an aneurysm near her heart and a partially collapsed aortic valve. While she was recovering, she discovered that the cause of the sepsis was a bacteria that is resistant to most types of antibiotics. To this day, Mary still lives with the resistant infection, and is a campaign and public speaker on the topic of AMR.

All those who​watch the video will see and hear for themselves that the ‘costs’ of AMR go beyond health and wellbeing but also impact livelihoods and access to opportunities. AMR Voices is a platform that gave people a place to speak and illustrate that the new pandemic is already here.

Life-threatening drug-resistant bacteria can infect anyone, of any age, anywhere in the world – unlike Covid-19 that hits the eldely and those with pre-existing conditions the hardest. We must do better by the people already on the frontline of AMR. From policy change to greater education, coordinated and collaborative action must be taken across national, regional and global levels to truly tackle AMR.

Government leaders have a unique opportunity to turn the tide on this crisis through developing comprehensive, integrated policies and robust investments. There has been much attention rightly paid to the need to invest more in developing new antibiotics but the investment needed to develop tailored diagnostic tests that give real time results and data is equally important. These tests for antimicrobial resistance will make sure people get the right antibiotic the first time around.


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