Leaders at the third global high-level ministerial conference on antimicrobial resistance in Muscat, Oman, have agreed global targets to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

At the two-day conference, which ran from 24-25 November 2022 and was entitled The AMR Pandemic: From Policy to One Health Action, world leaders agreed three numerical targets for antimicrobial use in the human and animal sectors.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the global targets ‘will pave the way for bold political commitments’ when world leaders come together at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AMR in 2024.

The three targets, agreed under the Muscat Ministerial Manifesto, were:

  • To reduce the total amount of antimicrobials used in agrifood systems by at least 30-50% by 2030;
  • To end the use of medically important antimicrobials for growth promotion in animals, in order to preserve critically important antimicrobials for human medicine;
  • To ensure ‘Access’ group antibiotics (a category of antibiotics that are affordable, safe and have a low AMR risk) represent at least 60% of overall antibiotic consumption in humans by 2030.

The Pharmacist has asked manifesto organisers which – and how many – of the over 40 countries in attendance endorsed the target, but has not yet received a response.

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson said endorsement of the manifesto can be provided up to two weeks after the conference, and the DHSC is finalising its position.

The spokesperson also highlighted that the UK has launched a ‘Call for Evidence’ to help shape its next five-year National Action Plan (NAP) on AMR, starting in 2024.

They continued: ‘The UK is leading the way in the world’s fight against antimicrobial resistance, both at home and abroad, through our 5-year National Action Plan and our 20 year vision to control and contain the silent killer of AMR.

‘Over the past two years we have developed tools such as vaccines and therapeutics to tackle a global pandemic, and it is vital we take these learnings to ensure that we are prepared to take on and overcome the threat of AMR.’

The 2019 to 2024 NAP plan highlighted that the NHS’ increasing deployment of clinical pharmacists working in primary care, including within care homes and GP practices, ‘offers new opportunities for enhancing antimicrobial stewardship through knowledge exchange and learning’.

Primary care pharmacists ‘have a critical role in reviewing prescriptions for antimicrobials and challenging those that may be inappropriate’, it added.

The five-year plans sit within the UK’s 20-year vision for antimicrobial resistance, which sets out a 2040 vision – which targets new diagnostics, therapies and vaccines; optimal use of antimicrobials and good stewardship, as well as lower burden of infection, better treatment of resistant infections, an minimised transmission.

Mark Gilchrist, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) Expert Advisory Group on Antimicrobials, said that he welcomed the conference and the focus it provided around efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

He continued: ‘Pharmacists play a critical role in the fight against AMR. The recent world antimicrobial awareness week showcased the fantastic work that pharmacists are doing on a daily basis both within primary, secondary care sectors, nationally and within academia.’

He also said the RPS, alongside the UK Health Security Agency, NHSE and expert advisory groups have ‘created a huge number of resources to help reduce AMR’.

In October, pharmacists said outrage over then-health secretary Thérèse Coffey’s comments about sharing antibiotics should not overshadow the conversation about the value of pharmacist prescribing.