SuperbugsCountries' Shortcomings in Tackling Antibiotic Resistance Spotlighted

By Chris Dall

Published 25 June 2021

A new report indicates that while the world’s leading economies have been talking a good game when it comes to addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR), they have yet to translate that talk into substantive action.

At the conclusion of a meeting this month in England, health and finance ministers from the G7 nations released statements that included commitments to fighting the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) with meaningful actions. Those statements were hailed by many AMR experts as an important acknowledgement that countries need to be prepared for a future pandemic caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

But a new report indicates that while the world’s leading economies have been talking a good game when it comes to addressing AMR, they have yet to translate that talk into substantive action.

The report from the Global Coalition on Aging and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)—the AMR Preparedness Index—looks at the level of attention governments of 11 countries have given to AMR and how well they are living up to their commitments. The countries were assessed across seven categories that AMR experts have identified as critical to addressing the growing “silent pandemic” of drug-resistant pathogens.

While some progress has been made, the report found that the countries—Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, India, China, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States—have largely failed to back up their promises with meaningful action. Among several shortcomings highlighted are lack of adequate investments, failure to develop and implement ambitious national AMR action plans, low public awareness of AMR, and failure to make AMR a political priority.

If countries do not adequately prepare for and address AMR, the very foundation of modern healthcare will fall away, taking with it the great achievement of human longevity,” the authors of the report write. “Yet, government action to date has failed to match the severity of the crisis.”

Countries Falling Short
Based on published research and reports, surveys, and interviews with experts, the report measured the performance of each country across seven categories, each encompassing several indicators, and assigned them an overall score on a 100-point scale. The categories included national strategy, awareness and prevention, access, appropriate and responsible use, AMR and the environment, innovation, and collaborative engagement.

Among the questions asked by the authors in their evaluation was how robust countries’ national AMR action plans are, how much national funding there is for efforts to combat and build public awareness of AMR, what kind of incentives are being considered and adopted to boost antibiotic development, and what is being done to curb overuse and misuse of antibiotics.