Drugs-resistant microbes "formidable threat" to sustainable development

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Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed (left) briefs journalists on antimicrobial resistance. She was joined at the briefing by Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). UN Photo/Mark Garten

Drugs-resistant microbes pose a "formidable threat" that could prevent the world from reaching the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, said the UN deputy chief on Thursday.

Amina Mohammed was announcing the formation of an interagency coordination group on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which she will co-chair, along with the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan.

More details from Matthew Wells.

The Deputy Secretary-General said the creation of the UN coordination group to combat AMR, and advise on the global effort, was a sign of how seriously Member States were taking the threat.

She told journalists at UN Headquarters that AMR was a "multi-sectoral problem" affecting human and animal health, agriculture, as well as the global environment and trade.

"As we enter the era of sustainable development I would like to emphasize that AMR really does pose a formidable threat to the attainment of the SDGs, particularly in our developing countries. AMR will have profound effects on our ability to ensure clean water, sustainable food production, and to eliminate poverty."

The 17 ambitious SDGs include the elimination of hunger and extreme poverty, and if so-called superbugs are not stopped, the targets would likely not be met, she said.

Co-chair of the group, Margaret Chan, said antibiotic resistance was already prolonging illness worldwide, and the political declaration of the UN General Assembly last September to coordinate the fight against AMR was a vital commitment to help tackle the scourge globally.

She said that the inter-agency group would support governments across the world, as well as advising on the "use and abuse" of antibiotics for people, and livestock.

She promised that the group, appointed by the UN Secretary-General would "get to work right away."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’20″

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