Antibiotic Resistance: Global Threats and Novel Responses

April 20, 2017
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

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MRSANIAIDCreativeCommonsAntibiotic resistance poses a significant threat to human and environmental health around the globe claiming 700,000 lives a year. Without policies in place to prevent the spread of resistance, annual deaths are projected to reach 10 million by 2050.1 Former United Kingdom Prime Minister claimed,  

“If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine” - David Cameron, former UK Prime Minister

AMRA recent report by the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (2016), commissioned by the UK Prime Minister, claimed tackling antimicrobial resistance is essential for global health and economic security. The report makes recommendations targeting awareness, market rewards and a reduction of antibiotic use in agriculture. Current agricultural practices rely on antibiotics to speed animal growth and increase survival in crowded living conditions. This practice puts the public at an alarming risk as bacteria become resistant in livestock populations and spread to humans. Multiple organizations and government entities are calling for increased awareness and change in practices. New forms of public health messaging are surfacing in novel places including the comic book industry as a way to target youth.

SurgeonXOn this call, we learned more about global resistance, agricultural policy and a public engagement strategy. Professor Neil Woodford of Public Health England discussed the findings in the AMR report focusing on the use of antibiotics globally, the threat to human health, the economic impacts of resistance and measures nations can take to reduce the rise of resistance. Dr. David Wallinga of the National Resources Defense Council discussed the rise of antibiotic resistance in the agricultural industry and US policy issues that help or hinder the spread of resistance. Finally, Sara Kenney, author of Surgeon X, discussed her goals for creating a comic to engage the public on the dangers of resistance and why this form of outreach is important.

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NeilWoodfordNeil Woodford, PhD, is the head of the Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections (AMRHAI) Reference Unit at Public Health England. His Unit is based at Colindale in north London and offers national reference microbiology services, undertakes laboratory-based surveillance programs, and contract research studies for pharma and biotech industries on new antibiotics and novel diagnostic technologies. His Unit is a WHO Collaborating Centre, and is committed to improving laboratory capacity for detection and reporting of antimicrobial resistance.

Dr. Woodford is a visiting professor at Imperial College London, where he also did his doctoral studies on Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and is an honorary professor at Queen Mary University of London and University College London, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Dr. Woodford has worked on antimicrobial resistance for three decades and has co/authored over 350 publications and edited three books on this subject. A fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, he has been an editor of the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. Dr. Woodford's interests include antibiotic resistance mechanisms in bacterial pathogens, molecular analysis to track dissemination of resistance, and molecular diagnostics for rapid detection of resistance. He sits on many national and international committees relating to antimicrobial resistance, and he served as the scientific advisor to Lord Jim O’Neill‘s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (2014-2016).

DavidWallingaDavid Wallinga, MD, is a physician with more than 20 years of experience in writing, policy and advocacy at the intersection of food, nutrition, sustainability and public health. His current work focuses on the enormous overuse of antibiotics of human importance in U.S. livestock production—a practice that continues to worsen the global crisis of antibiotic-resistant infections, like MRSA. Prior to rejoining NRDC in April 2015, he cofounded Healthy Food Action, Keep Antibiotics Working: The Campaign to End Antibiotic Overuse, and he created and directed the health program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis.

Before that, Dr. Wallinga worked at NRDC on pesticides policy and on implementation of the then-new Food Quality Protection Act. He completed his medical school education at the University of Minnesota; he also holds a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University. He is based in San Francisco.

SaraKenneySara Kenney is a writer, producer and director based in London, England. Ms. Kenney is an acclaimed documentary, factual drama and animation filmmaker (Angels and Ghosts) and master artist JOHN WATKISS (Sandman, Conan, Deadman). She started her career working in science, but left a good job with great career prospects to work in TV. For the last 16 years she’s worked as a filmmaker on documentaries, drama and animation (BBC, Channel 4, Discovery etc.). Ms. Kenney's first comic Surgeon X was published in Image Comics in September 2016.

This call was moderated by Steve Heilig, MPH, CHE's director of Public Health and Education. It lasted for 60 minutes and was recorded for the call archive.

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