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UK Govt Launches 5-Yr Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance

Written by : Nikita Saha

May 10, 2024

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The National Action Plan aims to reduce the use of antimicrobials in humans and animals including antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals.

The UK government has launched a new National Action Plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a global issue that makes infections difficult or impossible to treat.

The National Action Plan aims to reduce the use of antimicrobials in humans and animals including antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals.

The plan also aims to strengthen the surveillance of drug-resistant infections before they emerge. Further, the plan encourages the industry to develop the next generation of treatments.

UK’s National Action Plan

The National Action Plan would continue to support the ‘subscription model’ for antimicrobials, initiated as a pilot in 2019.

Reportedly, this model will now compensate more companies with a fixed annual fee for antimicrobials, based primarily on their value to the NHS, rather than the volumes used.

Additionally, the plan aligns with the UK’s 20-year vision for antimicrobial resistance.

The vision aims to contain, control, and mitigate AMR, thereby enhancing public health protection by reducing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, disability, and death.

UK Health Minister Maria Caulfield said. “Almost 8,000 people in the UK die from drug-resistant infections every year. If this continues to spread, common infections and injuries that were once easily treatable become harder, and in some cases impossible, to treat.’’

She further noted that the latest five-year action plan outline leads the way in tackling AMR, including through expanding our world-first subscription model to accelerate research into new treatments.

“In a world recovering from the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, international collaboration and preparedness for global health challenges have taken on an unprecedented level of importance,” she added.

This is the second of a series of five-year National Action Plans that seeks to ensure sustained progress by tackling the global threat of AMR.

Key Focus Areas

The new plan has nine strategic outcomes organized under four themes:

Reducing the need for antimicrobials: This involves preventing infections, monitoring AMR, and minimizing antimicrobial release into the environment.

Optimizing antimicrobial use: This ensures antimicrobials are used only when necessary in humans, animals, and the environment.

Investing in innovation, supply, and access: This supports the development of new vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, ensuring accessibility and informing work on AMR through research.

Being a good global partner: This maintains the UK’s leadership role on AMR and supports low-middle-income countries in responding to AMR through research and access to antibiotics.

AMR Threat in the UK

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) refers to the ability of microorganisms to survive or grow in the presence of drugs designed to inhibit or kill them. AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites no longer respond to these medicines, making infections difficult or impossible to treat.

In the UK, the number of severe antibiotic-resistant infections is on the rise. The latest national surveillance data shows that an estimated 58,224 people in England had an antibiotic-resistant infection in 2022, a rise of 4% since 2021 (55,792).

Further, deaths due to severe antibiotic-resistant infections also increased from 2,110 in 2021 to 2,202 in 2022.

In 2022, the UK government invested £210 million to partner with countries across Asia and Africa to tackle AMR and reduce the threat posed to the UK, through the Fleming Fund.

Sharing thoughts, UK Special Envoy on AMR Dame Sally Davies said, “But we are facing an antibiotic emergency already. This menace is deeply unfair – with the burden disproportionately falling on the world’s most vulnerable, in low-and middle-income countries and also children. We have to work together, across the world, with those countries that need action the most, to make progress and contain AMR.”


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