FDI continues to represent the profession at global event on antimicrobial resistance

17 November 2017 Antimicrobial Resistance

FDI was once again the only organization present to represent the oral health profession at a global event to accelerate action on tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The meeting took place 12-13 October in Berlin, Germany, and was organized by the governments of the United Kingdom, Thailand and Ghana, the UN Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust – in partnership with the UN Inter-Agency Coordination Group.

AMR call to action

FDI Speaker Dr Susie Sanderson from the British Dental Association attended the meeting along with some 200 health officials from around the world. Designed as a global call to action to fight AMR, the meeting aimed to build consensus around priority areas, research to address knowledge gaps, and further collaboration across all sectors.

The discussions identified the key factors that need to be addressed in a consistent way throughout the world (with or without regulation), which largely mirror the strategic objectives of the WHO global action plan on antimicrobial resistance to:

  • Improve awareness and understanding of AMR
  • Strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research
  • Reduce incidence of infection
  • Optimize use of antimicrobials
  • Develop economic case for sustainable investment taking into account the needs of all countries – increasing investment in new medicines, vaccinations, diagnostic tools and other interventions

The meeting also named the main sectors that need to be engaged (with a cross-sector approach) to reduce AMR as being human health, animal health, plant health, and the environment. Sustainability of any action, however, will need more stakeholders involved (including civil society) as well as more policy, education, regulation and money. Public awareness, sanitation and hygiene, and surveillance were among the top 10 fronts discussed to tackle AMR.

Acting against a ‘post-antibiotic apocalypse’

AMR poses a serious threat to public health with the potential to affect people in every part of the world. Bacteria can develop resistance to specific antibiotics, meaning that the antibiotic is no longer effective against those bacteria. Although antibiotic resistance is a natural feature of bacterial evolution, the inappropriate use of antibiotics has increased the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotics underpin routine clinical practice in most healthcare settings, including dentistry, and the emerging threat of AMR represents an economic and health threat of epic proportions. Around 700,000 people around the world die annually due to drug-resistant infections including tuberculosis, HIV and malaria. If no action is taken, it has been estimated that drug-resistant infections will kill 10 million people a year by 2050.

"We really are facing, if we don't take action now, a dreadful post-antibiotic apocalypse. This is a serious issue that is with us now, causing deaths. If it was anything else people would be up in arms about it, but because it is hidden they just let it pass. It does not really have a 'face' because most people who die of drug resistant infections, their families just think they died of an uncontrolled infection. It will only get worse unless we take strong action everywhere across the globe. We need some real work on the ground to make a difference or we risk the end of modern medicine."
Prof. Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer in England 

Enabling dentists to educate their patients about AMR

Global leaders are urged to address the growing threat of AMR, including at the dental practice. Dentists are among the major prescribers of antibiotics, estimated at 7–11% of all antibiotic prescriptions, depending on the country. It is therefore crucial to inform dentists of the major issues related to AMR in medicine and dentistry and change prescribing behaviours. This was precisely the aim of FDI’s Science Committee Forum at the World Dental Congress in Madrid, Spain.

The forum presented the need to reduce and prevent the development of AMR, the reasons why it is difficult to develop new antibiotics, and new approaches being developed to enable dentists and the public to fight microbial pathogens. The forum follows a member consultation by the Science Committee, asking National Dental Associations to submit their national guidelines for dentists on AMR. The committee’s work on AMR in dentistry will continue in 2018.

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