Can WHO’s pandemic instrument be designed to address a wider range of pandemic threats? The Policy Accelerator advises on how the pandemic instrument could be made more comprehensive.
AMR kills and debilitates millions of people annually, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In 2022, the Global Burden of Disease Study estimated that close to 5 million deaths in 2019 were associated with bacterial AMR, including 1.27 million deaths directly attributable to bacterial AMR.
More must be done urgently and collectively to mitigate AMR while we still can. Our best chance of mitigating the impact of the deadly pandemic of AMR may be the WHO’s pandemic instrument, an international treaty on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response currently under negotiation. Although this new instrument is currently focused on combatting novel zoonotic threats that resemble the COVID-19 pandemic, measures needed to address AMR and zoonotic threats overlap significantly meaning a few additions to the instrument would address both pandemic threats.
The AMR Policy Accelerator has spearheaded multiple initiatives to highlight the importance of addressing AMR in the pandemic instrument.
Designing a Comprehensive Pandemic Instrument
In June 2022, the Global Strategy Lab finalized an analysis of how the pandemic instrument could be designed to comprehensively address both global health threats. This analysis was shared as a policy brief with the Ministerial Alliance of Champions against AMR. The analysis showed:
- Efforts needed to address both AMR and zoonoses overlap significantly, meaning negotiations focused on zoonotic threats could, with small adjustments, also address AMR for greater impact.
- Dual-purpose provisions that address both pandemic threats would further promote: a) equitable access to medical countermeasures, b) globally integrated One Health surveillance and monitoring systems, and c) increased technical and laboratory capacity in LMICs.
- A comprehensive pandemic instrument could also include provisions to safeguard the effectiveness of antimicrobial medicines.
Partnering with our Allies to Call for Inclusion of AMR in the Pandemic Instrument
In July 2022, the Global Strategy Lab (GSL) was invited by the Intergovernmental Negotiation Body (INB) to submit written feedback on the then-current Working Draft of the pandemic instrument. GSL’s AMR Policy Accelerator partnered with International Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Solutions (ICARS), International Network for AMR Social Science (INAMRSS), One Health Trust (OHT), and ReAct – Action on Antibiotic Resistance to develop a collective submission on the need for inclusion of AMR in the instrument as well as the various ways AMR could be addressed within the instrument.
The AMR Policy Accelerator’s Managing Director, Dr. Susan Rogers Van Katwyk and Scientific Director, Dr. Steven J. Hoffman partnered with Boston University’s Dr. Kevin Outtersen to edit a symposium issue of the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (JLME). Published in March 2023, it brought together leading policy research experts from around the world on how and why AMR should be addressed in the Pandemic Instrument. See our project page for the JLME symposium issue here.
In July 2023, ahead of the fifth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, Susan Rogers Van Katwyk wrote an article for The Conversation that explained, in lay terms, the importance of addressing AMR in the pandemic instrument. The article was syndicated by news outlets globally, including Yahoo! News and MSN News.