Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) : In top 10 global health threats

Shobha Shukla, Bobby Ramakant– CNS
Youth, as key stakeholders in combating AMR, are not only raising the awareness of the public about AMR but also promoting structural and behavioural change in prescription and consumption of antimicrobials. They also have a role in sensitising national and global actors and decision-makers to invest more in tackling AMR, including in actions led by youth.
The United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on AMR in 2024 is an opportunity to drive global change, as its resolutions might be crucial in shaping the future of health and AMR. It is in the interest of all that the voices of youth networks and organisations be included and amplified, as they can play a critical role in setting the global AMR agenda.
"When I was implementing infection control in an isolation facility in Kenya during the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, it took me 2 years in service without fully knowing AMR. How it impacts human health, animal health, and the environment is important to understand," added Nahashon Gicheru. "National Action Plans on AMR and implementing them, including addressing risk factors of AMR like handwashing, is so key. Working with youth at local level is vital."
Rhema Hooper, a student representative of College of Health, Lehigh University, said that "We are being an example of how to educate and engage young people especially students in AMR awareness campaign and advocacy." One positive outcome is that now young students use phones to alert patients on when to take their medicines to combat AMR.
Rhema Hooper added that "We can equip university students to connect with local communities on issues like AMR. Schools can play an important role on AMR and food security, for example."
Dr Salman Khan who is being trained at government-run Grant Medical College and JJ Hospital Mumbai in India, said that "Knowing grassroots reality (regarding danger of AMR), I had a constant urge to make a difference. This drove me to engage youth in AMR. I was involved and able to witness multiple activities done by medical students, including AMR stewardship, infection control, and a lot more."
"Imagine if every region, sub-region, every country, every sub-national level, has a youth group engaged on AMR," what a difference it can make!" added Dr Khan.
Listen to the people we serve
"We have to keep AMR-affected communities in the centre," when it comes to responding to AMR, said Dr Salman Khan.
As per the Youth Manifesto, 'An effective, sustainable response to AMR requires a “whole-of-society” approach, in which young people can play a crucial role now and in the future. Youth can help to increase awareness and change behaviour in society and to advocate for action on AMR in political and policy fora. Young people should have a seat at the table in shaping responses to global threats such as AMR. The ideas, perspectives and skills of youth must be harnessed to advance global, regional, national and subnational AMR plans and interventions. Meaningful engagement of youth should be a priority for the United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on AMR in 2024 and beyond'.
Preamble to the Youth Manifesto
* Ensure meaningful youth engagement in policy, advocacy and programme implementation to achieve integration of the priorities stated below into local and national action plans.
* Foster multi-stakeholder collaboration to establish capacity-building initiatives and mentorship programmes to enable youth-led actions against AMR at national, regional and global levels.
* Encourage countries and key stakeholders, such as civil society organizations and institutions, to address the priorities stated below and to include youth in co-creating their strategic plans on AMR.
* Enable youth networks to use the AMR-related information provided by the Quadripartite Joint Secretariat on AMR and the Quadripartite organizations, which are the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), for producing educational materials and capacity-building for young people.
Top priorities identified by youth include (i) Advocacy and engagement at various levels; (ii) Education and capacity-building and inclusion of AMR awareness and appropriate use of antimicrobials in the health curricula of primary, secondary and higher education institutions, among others; (iii) Equitable patient care, so that people across the world have access to effective, high-quality diagnosis and treatment for infectious diseases and the benefits of research and development reach everyone; and (iv) Addressing AMR with a One-Health approach.