Strengthening WHO for Future Health Emergencies while Battling COVID-19: Major Outcomes of the 2021 World Health Assembly
By Nirmalya Syam and Mirza Alas
The 74th World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) took place in May 2021 in a time when developing countries had to confront a substantial surge in COVID-19 infections and fatalities, while continuing to face inadequate access to vaccines. Meanwhile, the majority of the global supplies were secured by a few rich countries, ignoring the pleas of the WHO Secretariat. However, even though discussions around the COVID-19 response and strengthening emergency preparedness and response dominated the Assembly, WHO Member States could not achieve any concrete outcome to addressing the question of equitable access to vaccines and other health technologies for COVID-19. In this context, this policy brief describes some of the major outcomes of the Assembly.
This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st January to 30 June 2021. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications of the outcomes of internal policy-oriented research and external contributions made as a result of cooperation with the Centre.
SOUTH CENTRE STATEMENT FOR THE 74TH WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY: Agenda Item 13.5. Antimicrobial Resistance
Antimicrobial resistance is a silent pandemic. Today WHA74 will discuss current progress but we need to learn from COVID-19. We need to build robust health systems and fix the broken system of innovation to deliver antimicrobials as global common goods. See our statement.
This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st July to 31 December 2020. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications made.
How Civil Society Action can Contribute to Combating Antimicrobial Resistance
By Mirza Alas Portillo
One of the key groups of actors that must be recognized for their influential role in shaping health policy outcomes are civil society organizations (CSOs). The antimicrobial resistance (AMR) space is no exception. AMR is one of the most significant health threats of our time, and many CSOs have had a critical role in shaping the national, regional and global responses to this health threat. However, CSOs working in the AMR space have received little financial support. In the final report submitted to the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group (IACG) on AMR recommended increasing collaboration, as doing so is necessary for effective action and is an essential part of tackling AMR. IACG also provided specific recommendations for strengthening the engagement of CSOs. While the need for this engagement is broadly recognized, there is limited literature documenting how CSOs have been involved in shaping AMR policies. Increased evidence can strengthen the case for expanding financial support to CSOs work on AMR. A critical look into how CSOs are spearheading campaigns to tackle AMR and promoting accountability through monitoring governments’, international organizations’ and other actors’ AMR-related commitments, particularly in developing countries, would be especially useful.
This paper aims to contribute to the analysis of CSOs involvement in the global AMR response. It begins by defining what constitutes a CSO and offers examples of how CSOs have contributed to addressing other critical health issues to draw lessons for handling AMR. It then undertakes a case analysis of a prominent CSO coalition, the Antibiotic Resistance Coalition (ARC), and describes that organization’s essential contributions in the AMR space. Finally, the paper offers reflections on why CSO participation in the AMR space needs to be further enhanced and supported.
What is the status of Antimicrobial Resistance National Action Plans in the African Region?
The South Centre and ReAct (Action on Antibiotic Resistance) Africa will hold avirtual conference on ‘‘What is the status of Antimicrobial Resistance National Action Plans in the African Region?’, to be held from 1st to 4th of December 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that, despite the magnitude of the global health challenges it has to face, the WHO is currently unable to fully enforce its directives, norms and standards. It also shows that its funding is neither sustainable nor adequate to respond effectively to current and future global health crises. Overreliance on voluntary targeted funding puts at risk its capacity to operate as the global agency responsible for public health. These are some of the main challenges facing the WHO today.
South Centre Semester Report, 1 January to 30 June 2020
This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st January to 30 June 2020. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications made.
Examining antimicrobial resistance in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic
By Mirfin Mpundu, Caline Mattar and Mirza Alas
The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to strengthen the capacity of health systems not only to be better prepared for the next pandemic but also to address ongoing crises such as antimicrobial resistance. The unfolding crisis due to antimicrobial resistance is, unfortunately, similar to the current health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit at a slower pace. As countries address the pandemic, there is a need to identify interlinkages between the pandemic and antimicrobial resistance and to continue strengthening the actions needed to slow down the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.
Antimicrobial Resistance: Examining the Environment as Part of the One Health Approach
By Mirza Alas
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a serious issue that is threatening the medical and agricultural advances of today. The connections that exist among human health, food production and the environment necessitate a One Health approach to address the challenge of AMR. Recent research points to the environment as an essential factor in the spread of AMR, as well as a possible reservoir of antimicrobial resistant bacteria and genes. The process, however, of the environmental transmission of resistance genes, along with their effects and how to mitigate them, is still being examined. As new research emerges, so to have new challenges regarding the selective pressure of antibiotics on the environment. AMR in the environment is not new, with resistance genes found even in isolated places (e.g. in permafrost or volcanoes) but understanding this natural process and its implications for tackling AMR continue to pose many questions. This paper aims to examine some of the emerging research on AMR from a One Health perspective and in particular to highlight the role of the environment. It will explore the use of antibiotics and their effects in different ecosystems, as well as the challenges they pose for developing countries: in particular, in designing policies to address antimicrobial resistance that take into account the connections among humans, animals and the environment.