Despite many proposals and initiatives in recent decades, the world has failed to keep pace with microbes becoming increasingly resistant to available treatments, so-called antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Any antibiotic use contributes to increasing the number of microorganisms on which drugs have no effect. AMR is thus an unavoidable phenomenon that undermines the effectiveness of basic and modern medicine and is affecting people from birth to death.
The increasing visibility of the consequences of AMR, both in terms of health outcomes and economic costs, has led to an increasing number of calls for global collective action to improve access to antimicrobial medicines on grounds of equity, to maintain their effectiveness and to increase the supply of new products. But despite the growing recognition of the urgency of tackling AMR, international policies and global institutional arrangements are still lacking.
Since AMR does not stop at national borders, it must be treated as a global challenge. Work must be undertaken to achieve a balance between supply and demand of urgently needed technologies through novel innovation models, health system strengthening and massive efforts to change social norms. If allowed to take on pandemic proportions, AMR would not only risk undoing much of the progress made within the health sector, but also threaten other development achievements such as poverty reduction and economic growth.