Impact Story

Working to align policy on antimicrobial resistance and universal health coverage

Published on 1 August 2018

Antimicrobial resistance and universal health coverage both dominate global health debates but far too little attention is paid to the links between them. IDS’ Health and Nutrition cluster is making influential contributions to integrate the two agendas, globally and regionally, through workshops, publications and meetings.


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World leaders have declared antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to be a global crisis. They have also, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted universal health coverage (UHC) as a key target. But, as IDS’ Dr Gerry Bloom argued in a widely disseminated 2017 paper for BMJ Global Health, neither ambition is achievable in isolation from the other.

Although research into antibiotic resistance surveillance is welcome, more action is needed to ensure that people get effective treatment for common infections to help reduce the risk of resistant organisms emerging.

The expertise of the IDS Health and Nutrition cluster on this topic has been sought nationally and internationally during 2017. The World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Region Office (WPRO) approached and funded Dr Bloom to present at a workshop convened by WPRO and the Asian Development Bank at the high-level Tokyo UHC Forum hosted by the Government of Japan. Since then, the Government of Japan, through the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), has commissioned IDS to design and facilitate a high-level meeting on UHC and on combating infectious diseases, hosted in Tokyo by ASEF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Longstanding expertise

Members of IDS’ Health and Nutrition cluster have for some time argued for greater alignment of the two policy agendas, so that antimicrobial resistance does not
undermine efforts to achieve universal health coverage.

In 2016, the WPRO commissioned and funded an IDS team led by Dr Bloom to produce a background document on integrating concern for AMR in UHC. The briefing was used in technical discussions at two key regional meetings – the Tokyo Meeting of Health Ministers on Antimicrobial Resistance in Asia, and the Bi-regional Technical Consultation on Antimicrobial Resistance in Asia. The briefing was well received and several of its recommendations fed into actions advocated in the report issued by WPRO after both meetings.

Partnership working on this area is vital, and IDS has enjoyed fruitful partnerships throughout the work on UHC – in particular with WPRO, ASEF, the Government of Japan, and ITAD as the lead partner in the evaluation of the UK Fleming Fund and a member of the DFID-funded Future Health Systems programme.

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