YLH at the
27th European Student's Conference
Simulation of the World Health Assembly
Topic: Antimicrobial Resistance
From 28th September to 1st October 2016, YLH collaborated with the European Students' Conference, that gathered more than 450 young researchers in Berlin for the scientific congress. Together we chaired the 27th ESC on antimicrobial resistance in Berlin.
Students and young professionals from across the globe who are interested in exploring interdisciplinary approaches to global health politics and diplomacy took part in Young Leaders for Health Simulation of the World Health Assembly. YLH gave this year's participants the chance to tackle the challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). In the negotiation process, they assumed the role of either a Member State's delegate or a representative from a non-governmental organisation. They were faced with the obstacles of global decision-making and learned how to overcome them.
Antimicrobial Resistance - a global solution needed?
AMR has been recognized as one of the gravest threats to global health. It causes an estimated 700,000 deaths per year and is predicted to cause an additional 9 million deaths annually by 2050 if no effective action is taken. As with climate change, the problem of AMR cannot be solved by a few countries alone. This particular challenge requires a global collective effort, for resistant microbes - like the climate - transcend national borders.
Global collective action means global collective decisions first.
The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the supreme decision-making body of the WHO (World Health Organization). Delegations from all 194 Member States meet once a year to determine the policies of the organization. During its 2015 meeting, the WHO adopted a global action plan on AMR, outlining five strategic objectives:
To improve awareness and understanding of AMR
To strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research
To reduce the incidence of infection
To optimize the use of antimicrobial agents
To ensure sustainable investment in countering AMR
While these objectives provide a solid outline for potential action on a technical level, the global action plan overall lacks adequate political solutions such as mechanisms to settle conflicts of interests among the various parties involved. Conserving newly-developed antibiotics to ensure their future usage poses - within the current R&D system - disincentives to develop new drugs. Prescription requirements could prohibit access to life-saving drugs in settings where a qualified health care worker is not accessible. Lastly, restricting the non-human use of antimicrobials could clash with the interests of the food industry.
Scholars and health authorities have increasingly stated that AMR constitutes an issue where formulating an international legal framework could prove useful. Other than UN resolutions, the WHO has listed such a competency under Article 21 of WHO’s Constitution, in order to pass legally binding regulations. Such regulations already exist for the containment of internationally spreading infectious diseases.
The new Antimicrobial Resistance regulations?
AMR is spreading rapidly. The world needs global solutions now. Are you up to the challenge? As a delegate at the WHA, you will have the chance to find these solutions. You will be tasked with knowing your country’s context and negotiating a framework that garners enough support to be passed. Possible solutions range from funding agreements to market incentives to accountability mechanisms to monitored benchmarks.