The heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO) today launched the new One Health Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.
Group members include heads of government, government ministers, leaders from private sector and civil society. The group is co-chaired by their Excellencies Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
The full list of the members of the One Health Global Leaders Group is available here.
The group will harness the leadership and influence of these world-renowned figures to catalyze global attention and action to preserve antimicrobial medicines and avert the disastrous consequences of antimicrobial resistance.
The Tripartite organizations launched the group during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020 (18-24 November), as part of their shared call for united action to preserve and protect antimicrobial medicines. The group was created in response to a recommendation from the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance and supported by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The Directors General described the rapid rise of antimicrobial resistance as one of the world’s most urgent threats to human, animal, plant and environmental health – endangering food security, international trade, economic development and undermining progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Antimicrobial resistance also leads to increased health care costs, hospital admissions, treatment failure, severe illness and death.
Preventing the most severe outcomes of antimicrobial resistance
Antimicrobial resistance is making many infections harder to treat worldwide. WHO’s latest reporting shows that the world is running out of effective treatments for several common infections.
“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest health challenges of our time, and we cannot leave it for our children to solve,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Now is the time to forge new, cross-sector partnerships that will protect the medicines we have and revitalize the pipeline for new ones.”
A common agenda across human, animal and plant health
Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and agriculture are the main drivers of antimicrobial resistance. Resistant micro-organisms can spread between humans, animals or the environment, and the antimicrobial medicines used to treat various infectious diseases in animals and humans are often the same.
“No single sector can solve this problem alone,” said QU Dongyu, Director-General of FAO. “Collective action is required to address the threat of antimicrobial resistance – across different economic sectors and country borders.”
Elevating political leadership for good governance
The group will provide political leadership to address this critical global challenge.
It will elevate the need to prioritize best practices to address antimicrobial resistance at global, regional, and national levels. And it will advise and advocate for the development and implementation of polices and legislation to govern the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of quality antimicrobial drugs across all sectors.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a current problem affecting animal health, human health, and the environment, we need to act today to protect their efficacy,” said Dr Monique Eloit, Director General of OIE. “I am confident that this group will advocate powerfully to implement legislation and mobilize key stakeholders to change antimicrobial use practices to protect our collective health and welfare.”
More information on the work of the Tripartite (FAO/OIE/WHO) is available here.
For more information on World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, visit WHO’s campaign page. A full calendar of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week events can be found here.
Note to Editors:
The Interagency Coordination Group (IACG) on Antimicrobial Resistance was convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations after the UN High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance in 2017 following the request of the 2016 Political Declaration of the High Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance contained in resolution A/RES/71/3. The IACG brought together partners across the UN, international organizations and individuals with expertise across human, animal and plant health, as well as the food, animal feed, trade, development and environment sectors, to formulate a blueprint for the fight against antimicrobial resistance. The Secretariat for the IACG was provided by WHO, with contributions from FAO and OIE. The IACG completed its mandate on 29 April 2019 upon the handover of its report to the UN Secretary-General.
The World Health Organization
The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions and from more than 150 offices, to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable. Our goals for 2019-2023 are to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and to provide a further billion people with better health and well-being.
The Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Our goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. We believe that everyone can play a part in ending hunger.
The World Organisation for Animal Health
The OIE is the intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide. Founded in 1924, it is recognised as a reference organisation for international standards relating to animal health and zoonoses by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has a total of 182 Member Countries. The OIE maintains permanent relations with international and regional organisations and has Regional and Sub-regional Offices on every continent.
WHO and other stakeholders join forces to accelerate access to effective paediatric HIV and tuberculosis diagnostics and medicines
On World Children’s Day, WHO is pleased to issue a call urging stakeholders to accelerate access to effective paediatric HIV and tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics and medicines.
The Action Plan, which is launched today, has been developed by a wide group of stakeholders under the auspices of the Fifth Vatican High-Level Dialogue on Paediatric HIV and TB in Children Living with HIV which was held earlier this month.
Children are one of the most disadvantaged populations in the HIV and AIDS and TB response. In 2019, 95 000 AIDS-related deaths occurred in children, two-thirds of those deaths in 21 focus countries. 850 000 children living with HIV were not accessing treatment, 65% of which were aged 5-14 years. These children are also particularly susceptible to co-infection with tuberculosis, a major cause of AIDS-related deaths in this population. In 2019, an estimated 36 000 children who were living with HIV died from TB.
There are several challenges that hamper the rapid development of paediatric formulations, including lack of paediatric data for new drugs, delay in completion of clinical studies, challenges with taste, and slow market uptake among others. In addition, high prices of diagnostic products, limited availability and accessibility to novel technical and case-finding interventions as well as fragmented and delayed regulatory approvals are some of the challenges faced in finding appropriate diagnostics for children. All in all these delay and affect uptake of essential services to diagnose and treat children with HIV and TB.
The plan agreed upon by participants of the High Level Dialogue includes pledges to accelerate development of new pediatric HIV and TB formulations; improved diagnostic devices and assays for children with TB; and lower prices for early infant HIV diagnosis.
Researchers and pharmaceutical companies have committed to continue and expand their collaborations to investigate and develop better medicines for children. Regulators committed to work towards facilitating the regulatory pathways for priority TB and HIV paediatric medicines. Government representatives confirmed their support for advancing widespread availability of new tests and optimal paediatric medicines. Policymakers committed to continue updating their normative work to capture new developments and support prioritization of research and development for medicines and diagnostics. Finally, key donors expressed their commitment by continuing and expanding their investments to support development of better formulations for children.
Organizers of the High-Level Dialogue included WHO and the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Aids Foundation, in their capacity as co-chairs of the AIDS Free Working Group of the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free framework, as well as The US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), UNAIDS, representatives of faith-based organizations, and the Stop TB partnership. Participants included leaders of major diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies, multilateral organizations, governments, regulators, faith-based organizations, and services providers for children and adolescents living with HIV and TB.
The 2020 High-Level Dialogue serves as a reminder of the challenges that exist, but also highlights the opportunities we can capitalize on when we work together. WHO remains committed in working with its partners in ensuring progress towards a Start Free, Stay Free and AIDS Free generation and to reaching the targets as included in the political declaration of the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on TB and the WHO End TB Strategy.
"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the power of collaboration and partnership to accelerate action. The WHO Global HIV programme recognizes this Action Plan as the roadmap to reset the speed at which innovations in drugs and diagnostics can lead to child-centered impact. We are proud to commit to developing the norms and standards, policies and research agendas on this pathway to success" said Dr Meg Doherty, Director the WHO Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programmes.
Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO's Global TB Programme reaffirmed: "We welcome the action plan and the impetus it will bring to scale up access to tuberculosis diagnostics and medicines for children and adolescents. Any child who dies from TB, HIV, COVID-19 or any infectious disease is one too many. We look forward to convening countries, partners and civil society to ensure rapid implementation of this plan to save young lives."
The United Nations, IOM, ITU, OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNOPS, UPU, UN Volunteers, UN Women, WFP and WHO support the adoption of the following joint statement, in line with the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles adopted by the UN System Organizations to support its use of data and technology in the COVID-19 response in a way that respects the right to privacy and other human rights and promotes economic and social development.
The COVID-19 pandemic has become a global emergency, with devastating consequences in terms of loss of life and economic decline, and significantly hampering progress toward achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Poor and vulnerable communities are particularly imperiled by this deadly disease and its economic ramifications.
Mounting evidence demonstrates that the collection, use, sharing and further processing of data can help limit the spread of the virus and aid in accelerating the recovery, especially through digital contact tracing. Mobility data derived from people’s usage of mobile phones, emails, banking, social media, postal services, for instance, can assist in monitoring the spread of the virus and support the implementation of the UN System Organizations’ mandated activities.
Such data collection and processing, including for digital contact tracing and general health surveillance, may include the collection of vast amounts of personal and non-personal sensitive data. This could have significant effects beyond the initial crisis response phase, including, if such measures are applied for purposes not directly or specifically related to the COVID-19 response, potentially leading to the infringement of fundamental human rights and freedoms. This concern is especially pressing if some emergency measures introduced to address the pandemic, such as digital contact tracing, are turned into standard practice.
The UN Secretary-General highlighted in his policy brief on human rights and COVID-19 that “Human rights are key in shaping the pandemic response, both for the public health emergency and the broader impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Human rights put people centre-stage. Responses that are shaped by and respect human rights result in better outcomes in beating the pandemic, ensuring healthcare for everyone and preserving human dignity.”
Any data collection, use and processing by UN System Organizations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic should be rooted in human rights and implemented with due regard to applicable international law, data protection and privacy principles, including the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles. Any measures taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic should also be consistent with the mandates of the respective UN System Organizations and take into account the balancing of relevant rights, including the right to health and life and the right to economic and social development.
Taking into account the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles, the UN Secretary-General’s policy brief on human rights and COVID-19, and relevant health and humanitarian standards, data collection, use and processing by UN System Organizations in their operations should, at a minimum:
- Be lawful, limited in scope and time, and necessary and proportionate to specified and legitimate purposes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Ensure appropriate confidentiality, security, time-bound retention and proper destruction or deletion of data in accordance with the aforementioned purposes;
- Ensure that any data exchange adheres to applicable international law, data protection and privacy principles, and is evaluated based on proper due diligence and risks assessments;
- Be subject to any applicable mechanisms and procedures to ensure that measures taken with regard to data use are justified by and in accordance with the aforementioned principles and purposes, and cease as soon as the need for such measures is no longer present; and
- Be transparent in order to build trust in the deployment of current and future efforts alike.
A coordinated and inclusive global UN-wide response rooted in solidarity is necessary to contain the pandemic and minimize its negative impact across the world. Although the statement is aimed to address the challenges of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it may serve as a precedent for using data to respond to any future crises of a similar scale quickly and while respecting data protection and privacy.
 WHO issued “Ethical considerations to guide the use of digital proximity tracking technologies for COVID-19 contact tracing”. More information can be found at https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-Ethics_Contact_tracing_apps-2020.1