Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance, in New York today:
I am pleased to join you to address this important topic. Antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental, long-term threat to human health, sustainable food production and development. It is not that it may happen in the future. It is a very present reality in all parts of the world, in developing and developed countries; in rural and urban areas; in hospitals; on farms and in communities. We are losing our ability to protect both people and animals from life-threatening infections.
Let me give just a few, sobering examples. More than 200,000 newborn children are estimated to die each year from infections that do not respond to available antibiotics. An epidemic of multidrug-resistant typhoid is now sweeping across parts of Africa, being spread through water.
Resistance to HIV/AIDS drugs is on the rise. Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis has been identified in 105 countries. And resistance to antimalarial medicines is an urgent public health concern in the Greater Mekong subregion. The spread of antibiotic-resistant infections from live farm animals to meat and people has been documented. Furthermore, dangerous new genetic mechanisms for the spread of resistance are emerging and spreading quickly throughout the world.
These trends are undermining hard-won achievements under the Millennium Development Goals, including against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and the survival of mothers and children.
If we fail to address this problem quickly and comprehensively, antimicrobial resistance will make providing high-quality universal health coverage more difficult, if not impossible. It will undermine sustainable food production. And it will put the Sustainable Development Goals in jeopardy.
It is possible to reduce antimicrobial resistance, but it will not be easy. It will require long-term commitment from everyone in this room, and many others. We will need the deep engagement, cooperation and coordination of several sectors, and sustained financing.
If we do this, we can create a world that is safer, healthier and more productive. A world where doctors, patients, veterinarians and farmers who need antimicrobial medicines can be confident they will work.
You are here today because you recognize that antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental threat to human and animal health and sustainable development, to sound economies and social cohesion. The commitments you make today must be turned into swift, concerted action.