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Infection Management Coalition White Paper: Health industry, professional bodies and experts come together to tackle antibiotic resistant infections

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Article published on the UK Sepsis Trust website

COVID-19 has shone a light on the need to consider infection management as a whole. Coined as the ‘hidden pandemic’, concerns are rising that antibiotic resistant infections are already presenting the next global health crisis. A whole system approach is required for the way infection is detected, monitored, prevented, and managed across all facets of the National Health Service (NHS) and broader society.

Today, the Infection Management Coalition (IMC) launched their White Paper, the first of its kind to outline a call for a transformational change in the way infection is detected, monitored, prevented, and managed across all facets of the NHS, healthcare systems and broader society, by adopting a whole system approach.

The IMC was convened in January 2021 to drive change in support of holistic management and pandemic preparedness in response to the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on societies and economies globally.

The White Paper, which was developed by a coalition of partners spanning pharmaceuticals, MedTech and diagnostics, calls alongside professional bodies and healthcare experts for the creation of a healthcare system which is resilient and mature regarding: outbreak and pandemic preparedness; infection prevention; rapid treatment of time-critical viral and bacterial infection; with which to, ultimately, deliver effective antimicrobial stewardship (AMS). Building on the findings discussed in the Lancet’s global report on the burden of AMR1, the White Paper outlines the ways in which we can, and must, collectively deliver this transformational change.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a growing challenge and an existential threat that we must overcome,” says Dr David Jenkins, President of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. “We are encouraged to see for the first time, a diverse range of sectors and industries come together in partnership through this Coalition, to address the critical issue

of infection management. Our White Paper includes tangible recommendations which breaks down the siloes within this challenging sector to address the changes needed, with clear action.”

“We must collectively take the lessons from COVID-19 and ‘build back better’, by improving diagnostics and the pace at which interventions are implemented to ensure that we are armed and ready for future infectious epidemics and pandemics. No one sector can achieve this single-handedly! This is why Pfizer UK, in collaboration with partners in diagnostic, MedTech and microbiology companies, is committed and delighted to have had the opportunity to input into this White Paper and its recommendations, which aims to align with Government and importantly, truly advocate for a ‘One Health’ multi-sectoral approach to pandemic and emergency preparedness and infections management.” Comments Kypros Menicou, Senior Policy & Public Affairs Manager, Pfizer UK and Dr Tom Ashfield, Senior Medical Affairs Advisor- Antimicrobial Resistance and Stewardship, Pfizer UK.

“Like COVID-19, AMR is an existential threat that needs a coordinated, global response, from stewardship and monitoring of existing antibiotics to a workable solution for funding R&D into new ones. The pharmaceutical industry is committed to working in partnership with like-minded organisations to achieve these goals. This White Paper offers us a blueprint for further collaboration, building on the commitments that world leaders made at last year’s G7 to put AMR at the top of the global health agenda. We fully support further development of cohesive policy to support meaningful action.” Says Richard Torbett, Chief Executive, The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

Dr Ron Daniels, Founder and Executive Director, UK Sepsis Trust, says: “The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the devastating global health and societal implications an infection can have when there are no available preventative interventions or treatment options. It concerns me greatly that the next pandemic may very well be a drug-resistant infection that the UK and its international partners are currently ill-equipped to tackle, despite the huge advances made recently in this space. We must act now to avoid this.”

Amongst its recommendations, the White Paper highlights how vital it is to support healthcare providers in prescribing antimicrobials effectively – from rapid point of care diagnostics to determine if antimicrobials are appropriate, through to public health and vaccination programmes to avoid reliance on antimicrobials.

As a next step, the IMC is calling for the development of cohesive policy to support action. This includes working collectively to publish holistic infection management plans that include AMR; resourcing all areas equally ensuring valued consideration of the antimicrobial and diagnostics pipeline; and delivering systems integration of infection management to support both immediate and long-term change for the better.

The IMC believe that many of the recommendations are achievable within the systems and frameworks that already exist inside government, the NHS, and wider society. With a combination of awareness and organisational change required to drive these recommendations, negating the need for huge government investment or a complete systems overhaul.

“We are passionate about advancing science – identifying the best innovations and delivering them to patients. By partnering with the brightest minds in science and healthcare, and bodies such as the Infection Management Coalition, we have the opportunity to build a stronger, more resilient and agile healthcare system which meets the needs of patients both now and in the future.” Comments Sheila Devaney, Senior Medical Manager, Roche Diagnostics UK.

Download the White Paper here