18 October 2017 | Press release

Unitaid-led working group will study how to fight antimicrobial resistance through access to innovative treatments and diagnostics

Geneva – Unitaid has been chosen to chair a new working group on innovation and access for the UN’s Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG), a role that supports global efforts to avert a “post-antibiotic era” in which treatments for common infections no longer work.

The subgroup led by Unitaid will present recommendations to the IACG on how investments in innovation, research and boosting access can be harnessed to respond to the global threat of drug-resistant infections.

“The work of IACG is critical to find solutions to the global challenges of emerging resistance in human, animal and plant health,” said Unitaid’s Executive Director Lelio Marmora, who will head the subgroup. “We look forward to working with the other members of this group to look at these challenges holistically, and to developing actionable recommendations.”

A meeting of the IACG in Paris this week also decided the working group members would include: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), UK Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies, The Global Fund, South Centre, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and others. The subgroup was formed this week during a high-level conference in Berlin on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

The United Nations Secretary-General established the ad hoc IACG in 2016 in response to mounting global concern about antibiotics losing their effectiveness. The group’s objective is to provide practical guidance that will ensure a sustained offensive against drug resistance. The group will produce an interim report for the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in September, 2018.

According to the World Health Organization, antimicrobial resistance threatens the prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. Globally, 480,000 people develop multi-drug resistant tuberculosis each year, and drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria. Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”.

Tackling resistance is a high priority in Unitaid’s 2017-2021 strategy, and essential to reaching global health targets. Unitaid invests half its portfolio—US$ 500 million—in innovative grants to combat resistance in low-and middle-income countries. If additional funding is available, Unitaid is committed to dramatically increasing its investments in AMR.

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