WHO Executive Board, 144th Session, January 2019
MSF Statement: Agenda item 5.8.1 (EB144/19) – Follow-up to the high-level meetings of the United Nations General Assembly on health-related issues: Antimicrobial resistance
Speaker: Dušan Jasovsky
Whether caring for war-wounded patients in the Middle East, newborn babies in West Africa or people with MDR-TB in Central Asia, MSF faces challenges preventing, diagnosing and treating drug-resistant infections.
The medical innovation needed to combat drug-resistant infections must be needs-driven. New tools must also target the specific pathogens people face in developing countries, be adapted for use in resource-limited settings, and be accessible and affordable for all people in need.
We welcome the landscape analysis of diagnostics being conducted by WHO. A further necessary step will be to evaluate the clinical value of these tools in order to provide countries with guidance on which tests to prioritise.
The Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System has progressed; however, it could be strengthened by allowing non-state actors, like MSF, that perform microbial identification and resistance/sensitivity to supply data to increase the scope and quality of data made available in countries that struggle to collect and report such data nationally.
We welcome the draft resolution’s focus on strengthening support to National Action Plans but have observed that they are often not implemented. Financial and technical support for NAPs must be mobilised and mainstreamed into national budgets.
Finally, the draft resolution calls on civil society and the private sector to present a unified voice on AMR; however, the interests of these actors are not always aligned. Calling for them to be so is misguided. Of the 100 companies in the ‘Industry AMR Alliance’, only four have stopped the controversial practice of linking sales agents’ bonuses to increased sales of antibiotics. MSF research in India has shown that pharmaceutical representatives often provide biased and misleading medical information to prescribers. We are concerned that the draft resolution does not address such conflicts of interest nor call for stronger pharmaceutical industry regulation.