Recent research into the global health threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – the term which refers to infections becoming resistant to the drugs used to treat them – predicts extensive human and economic costs unless urgent action is taken. A declaration on AMR adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 21 September 2016 reflects the importance of the problem, as this is only for the fourth time that the General Assembly took up a health issue.
AMR threatens the effective prevention and treatment of a wide range of infections, and jeopardises the success of medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery. Furthermore, higher costs induced for treating patients with resistant infections put a drain on public health systems. Between 2015 and 2050, AMR is predicted to cause an estimated 2.1 million deaths in Europe, with a cost to the European economy of US $1.15 trillion.
Within the broader context of AMR, drug resistant tuberculosis is one of the gravest risks requiring attention. Indeed, tuberculosis kills more people annually than any other infectious disease, and has been identified as a ‘cornerstone’ of the fight to tackle AMR. Rates of drug resistant tuberculosis in Europe are growing faster than in any other world region. In 2014, there were an estimated 340,000 cases of tuberculosis in the World Health Organization European region.
In view of the serious public health threat posed by AMR, and in particular drug resistant tuberculosis, the Parliamentary Assembly calls on member States to combat AMR by identifying and addressing its root causes.