UN General Assembly to hold High-level Interactive Dialogue on Antimicrobial Resistance - a global health and development threat

Call to Action to tackle AMR through the One Health approach and to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

New York, 28 April 2021 - Calling for accelerated action to tackle the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkır, is convening a High-level Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Antimicrobial Resistance on Thursday 29 April.  World leaders, to be joined by UN experts, business and civil society leaders, are expected to discuss practical steps to address AMR in the midst of COVID-19 recovery plans.

"Antimicrobial Resistance is the invisible pandemic we ignore at our peril. Measures to tackle AMR must be central to future pandemic preparedness and COVID-19 recovery plans. The One Health approach will help us to better recognise the interconnections between people, animals, plants, and our shared environment so that we can make our world healthier for all," said Volkan Bozkir, the President of the General Assembly.

The One Health approach recognises the strong links between humans, animals and the environment.  AMR - one of the greatest global threats to animal, human and environmental health, livelihoods, food safety and global food security - occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and develop resistance to medicines. The impact is devastating. Antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat. This increases the risk of severe illness and death for humans, animals and plants.

Member States will present an ambitious, action-oriented Call to Action, with the aim of strengthening multisectoral actions to tackle AMR through the One Health approach and to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This will be hosted on the President of the General Assembly's website.

"COVID-19 has vividly highlighted what rapid progress can be made when there is strong enough political will and enterprise - and the extent of the risks we all face when this is missing. We must ensure that we marshal and channel the highest possible levels of political will and enterprise to combat the persisting threat of antimicrobial resistance," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General.

AMR is a rising pandemic and challenges the effective delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Currently, at least an estimated 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases. If no action is taken, drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and damage to the economy as catastrophic as the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. By 2030, AMR could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty.

"AMR is arguably one of the most complex threats to global health security, food safety and food security. Looking at AMR through the lens of food security, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) expects a 45% rise in the demand for animal proteins by 2050 and in many regions, antimicrobial resistance in animal parasites is adding new challenges to animal production. We must face the double challenge of meeting demands for animal proteins while reducing the risks of AMR," stated QU Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Director General Monique Eloit added, "The promotion of good animal health practices is essential to contribute to the global effort to tackle AMR. The OIE global database on antimicrobial agents intended for use in animal indicates an encouraging trend towards reduced quantity of antimicrobials used in food producing animals. To have a sustainable One Health impact, we need to invest and strengthen capacity equally in all sectors, and support the prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials in the animal health sector to maintain the efficacy of these important medicines."

The High-level Interactive Dialogue, a full day event to be held in the UN General Assembly Hall, will consist of an opening segment, four interactive panels and a closing segment. The Dialogue will focus on four key areas: evaluating AMR in the context of COVID-19; taking stock of global progress and the vision of the recently launched One Health Global Leaders Group on AMR, as well as country-level implementation; and exploring sustainable financing, Research and Development, and innovation for delivering life-saving solutions and accelerating action against AMR. 

Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, said: "Humanity's use of antimicrobial agents in our food systems, our homes and in our consumption patterns is creating a vicious cycle, driving up drug-resistant microbes in the environment, compromising healthy soil and water and undermining our well-being," said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). "To reduce the deadly risk of Anti-Microbial Resistance, we must manage waste better, practice regenerative agriculture that builds on nature's natural defences, and address water and soil pollution. UNEP will continue to work with partners for a sustainable and secure future."


More information on the Dialogue may be found on the President of the General Assembly's website: https://www.un.org/pga/75/antimicrobial-resistance/

The Dialogue will be webcast live on UN WebTV.


This High-level Interactive Dialogue is the highest-level meeting on AMR since the UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on AMR in September 2016, the first ever High-level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) where Member States adopted A/RES/71/3 "Political declaration of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance".

In September 2019, the UN High-level meeting on universal health coverage (UHC) adopted a political declaration which called for a discussion on AMR during the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly. This meeting was delayed until the seventy-fifth session due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo: ©FAO/ Alex Webb Magnum Photos for FAO
The One Health approach recognises the strong links between humans, animals and the environment.