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16 November 2016
Marking World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW), the World Health Organization (WHO) gathered representatives from various sectors in New York City to increase awareness of the problem and to encourage best practices to avoid its further spread. During the event, entitled “Advocating for Appropriate Antibiotic Use,” speakers addressed challenges and risks faced particularly by mothers and children; as well as the role of policymakers, consumers, food producers, and the healthcare industry in raising awareness and advocating for responsible antibiotic use.

This event follows the recent High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) held at the United Nations in September to summon and maintain strong national, regional and international political commitment in addressing this global threat. The meeting resulted in the endorsement by Member States of a political declaration on antibiotic resistance and also highlighted the roles of inter-governmental organizations in establishing, implementing and sustaining a cooperative global, multi-sectoral and cross-sectoral approach to fight it.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest health threats today. Rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world, across borders and sectors, it is compromising our ability to treat bacterial infections in humans and is reducing our capacity to protect the health of animals. Without concrete action to stop the spread of antimicrobial resistance, trillions of dollars and millions of lives—particularly of those most vulnerable such as mothers and children—are at risk, creating major barriers towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Children are particularly vulnerable to infection—in India alone, antibiotic-resistant neonatal infections cause the deaths of nearly 60,000 newborns each year. And more than 30,000 women die annually as a result of severe infections while giving birth, while infections during pregnancy may lead to pre-term delivery, still-birth and death of the infant due to sepsis.

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Speakers at the event included:

  • Dr. Nata Menabde, Executive Director of the World Health Organization Office at the UN, who opened and moderated the event.
  • Ms. Judith Arrieta Mungia, on behalf of Ambassador Juan Gomez Camacho, PR of Mexico to the UN, who spoke about the role of policymakers.
  • Dr. Theoklis Zaoutis, Chief of Infectious Diseases, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, IDSA, who addressed the role of the healthcare industry and the particular dangers of antibiotic resistance for maternal, child, adolescent and newborn health.
  • Ms. Jean Halloran, Consumer Reports/ Consumers International, who highlighted their latest report and the role of consumers and food producers.
  • Dr. Jay Varma, Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control, NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene, who talked about the role of local governments.
  • Ms. Carla Mucavi, Director of the NY Office, Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN, who highlighted the importance of the One Health Approach.
  • Ambassador Martin Shearman, UK Mission to the UN, who offered closing remarks.