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Addressing AMR in the Draft Pandemic Tre

  Apr 18, 2023

Addressing AMR in the Draft Pandemic Treaty

Q. Why is this in News?

A. The Draft Pandemic treaty also known as “Zero Draft”, is currently under negotiation by Member States at the World Health Assembly.

  • However, there is growing concern that the provisions addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are at risk of being removed from the final text.
  • Civil society and research organizations provided analysis and recommendations on addressing AMR.
  • A special edition of the Journal of Medicine, Law and Ethics emphasized the importance of including AMR in the Treaty.


Q. What is the Draft Pandemic Treaty?


  • About:
    • The draft pandemic treaty, is an international agreement proposed to prevent, prepare for, and respond to pandemics and global health emergencies.
    • It is being negotiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and member states.
    • The treaty aims to strengthen global cooperation and solidarity in addressing health threats.
    • It covers aspects such as surveillance, detection, notification, access to health technologies, collaboration, and accountability.
    • The treaty is based on principles of human rights, equity, and solidarity, while respecting each state's sovereign right to determine its health policies.
    • It establishes a global health threats council, a global health threats fund, and an independent review and evaluation mechanism.
    • The draft pandemic treaty is a response to the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Principal Components of the Draft:
    • Global Cooperation:
      • It calls for increased global coordination and cooperation in the preparation for and response to pandemics and other global health emergencies.
    • Strengthening of Health Systems:
      • It emphasizes the need to strengthen health systems in all countries, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, to ensure they are better prepared to respond to pandemics and other global health emergencies.
    • Investment in Research and Development:
      • It calls for improved access to essential health technologies, such as vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments, during pandemics and other global health emergencies.
      • It calls for increased investment in research and development of health technologies, particularly for diseases that pose a significant threat to global health.
    • Transparency in Sharing of Information:
      • It calls for increased transparency and sharing of information about pandemics and other global health emergencies, including data on the spread of diseases and the effectiveness of interventions.
    • Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS):
      • The constitution of PABS has been constituted under the WHO, making Genomic sequences of all pathogens with the pandemic potential to be shared on an “equal footing” in the system.
        • The PABS system is an important tool for ensuring the responsible and equitable use of pathogens and their genetic resources in the research and development of new medicines and vaccines, while also recognizing the rights and interests of the countries and communities that provide these resources.
    • Addressing Gender Disparities:
      • In addressing gender disparities in the healthcare workforce, the draft aims to “ensure meaningful representation, engagement, participation and empowerment of all health and care workers” by stressing equal pay and addressing barriers specific to women in taking leadership roles.


Q. Why is AMR Crucial in the Pandemic Treaty?


  • Reasons to Include:
    • AMR is the process by which infections caused by microbes become resistant to the medicines developed to treat them.
      • Microbes include bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites.
      • Bacterial infections alone cause one in eight deaths globally.
    • Not all pandemics are caused by viruses, and past pandemics have been caused by bacterial diseases.
    • AMR is fueling the rise of drug-resistant infections, including drug-resistant tuberculosis, pneumonia and drug-resistant Staph infections (caused by bacteria called staphylococcus) such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
    • Secondary bacterial/ fungal infections are a serious concern during viral pandemics, requiring effective antibiotics.
  • Research from Northwestern University suggests that many of the deaths among hospitalized COVID-19 patients were associated with pneumonia — a secondary bacterial infection that must be treated with antibiotics.
  • Black fungus is a fungal infection caused by Mucorales fungi, primarily affecting immunocompromised individuals with conditions like COVID-19 or diabetes.
  • Impact of Excluding AMR Measures:
    • Removal of AMR-related measures would hinder efforts to protect people from future pandemics.
    • Measures at risk of removal include access to safe water, infection prevention, surveillance, and antimicrobial stewardship.
  • Antimicrobial stewardship is the effort to measure and improve how antibiotics are prescribed by clinicians and used by patients. It aims to improve clinical outcomes and minimize adverse events related to antibiotic use, including the development of antibiotic resistance.
  • Weakening the language of the Treaty could allow countries to opt-out of preventive actions.
  • The Urgency of Addressing AMR in the Pandemic Treaty:
    • AMR requires global political action and collaboration to mitigate its impact.
    • Safeguarding antimicrobials is crucial for pandemic response and preparedness.
    • Failing to address AMR in the pandemic treaty undermines its broader goals of protecting nations and communities from future health emergencies.