Progress of UK Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy

17 December 2014

The UK Department of Health has published the first annual progress report on its five year action plan to combat the dangerous public health issue of antimicrobial drug resistance, known as AMR.

The UK Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy was launched in 2013, with the aims of improving understanding of AMR, preserving the potency of current antimicrobials through good stewardship, and driving the development of new diagnostics, antibiotics and other forms of treatment.

Now the 2014 Annual progress report and implementation plan sets out the key achievements of the strategy so far, notably:

  • Plans for how key infections and antimicrobial use will be measured over time have been agreed and initial (baseline) data from NHS England released.
  • Extensive surveillance of AMR in veterinary pathogens has been established and surveillance for food-borne pathogens expanded.
  • A new World Health Organisation (WHO) Resolution on AMR has been passed, led by the UK and Sweden, to create a WHO-led ‘One-Health’ Global Action Plan by May 2015.
  • The UK, in conjunction with the Netherlands and Sweden, led the development of the AMR Action Package within the Global Health Security Agenda.
  • The UK is leading the Heads of Medicines Agencies Task Force on AMR .
  • A national independent Review on AMR has been established to look at the antimicrobial drugs pipeline and recommend actions to stimulate new developments.
  • Steps towards a similar review the current status of diagnostics have been taken, with plans to create a framework for prompt and better diagnostic testing in the NHS.
Overall, the review sets out an implementation plan highlighting the most important actions for slowing the spread of AMR. These are said to be robust infection prevention and control (IPC) practices and antimicrobial stewardship; ensuring a sustainable pipeline of suitable new diagnostics and treatments; better research and leadership; ongoing participation in global efforts to address AMR; and improved public awareness. Success in this last area has already been demonstrated by the dedication of the high-profile Longitude Prize to tackling AMR, a choice made by popular vote.

Dr Laura Blackburn, project manager at the PHG Foundation and one of the team working on the infectious disease genomics project, commented:

“This report demonstrates why it is vital that we tackle the threat of AMR before the treatments that we have become ineffective, which could lead to previously easy to treat infections becoming fatal. It is encouraging to note the importance the report places on the role of current and emerging technologies, including genomics, in the development of new diagnostics and infection response, for example through Health Innovation Challenge Fund projects. Our work in this area indicates that targeted use of genomics can have a significant impact on infection control efforts, where conventional methods are not able to determine the source and spread of outbreaks”.

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