When the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged toward the end of 2019, it was the first time that most people alive today experienced how quickly an infectious disease can spread throughout the world and challenge global health systems. The importance of pandemic preparation cannot be understated. The Spanish Flu, H1N1 and now COVID have shown us how pandemics can comprehensively affect healthcare providers and patients, forcing difficult global conversations about healthcare delivery, access and public policy.
And yet, an even larger threat to humanity hangs over us. The reality is that this pandemic—which has upended life as we know it—provides a glimpse of what the future is likely to hold if we do not mobilize a sufficient global response to drug-resistant infections caused by antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. The misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans, animals, and the environment are the main drivers of drug-resistant infections.
Drug-resistant infections can affect anyone at any stage of life, anywhere in the world. As infectious pathogens and in particular bacteria become increasingly drug resistant, even common medical procedures – including surgery, childbirth, and chemotherapy – can become life-threatening.
How is BD helping in the fight against AMR?
The products in our portfolio and innovation pipeline are designed to assist in the global effort to contain AMR. For example, we offer a wide range of medical products utilized to prevent the spread of infection in healthcare facilities, diagnostic systems to screen, test and diagnose infection, including drug-resistant strains, and state-of-the-art surveillance and reporting capabilities to monitor, track and detect AMR outbreaks.
But BD’s deep commitment to combatting AMR goes well beyond our commercial offerings. We’re leveraging our broad and deep expertise in a strategy aligned to the five focus areas of the UN Global Action Plan. Here are some of the initiatives we’re driving that will positively impact millions of people around the world.
- Raising awareness of AMR among clinicians and the public at large
The Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Coalition (ARFC), mobilized by BD, is advancing awareness and advocating for the urgent need to combat the global risk of drug-resistant infections. The group aspires to change behaviors across the globe in order to maintain the effectiveness of antibiotics for future generations by increasing awareness of antimicrobial resistance via education, training, and partnerships. As part of those efforts, the coalition also offers webinars and has released a new podcast series Superbugs and You: True Stories from Scientists and Patients with the latest commentary from top thought leaders and change-makers in the field, as well as patients.
- Funding education, research, and surveillance programs to understand the growing threat of AMR
Providing BD data to world renowned AMR reporting organizations. Our informatics and data capabilities are recognized as the most comprehensive data available on infections, stewardship and outcomes.
- Reducing incidence of infection through hygiene and prevention education
Supporting development of educational tools. In 2020, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) launched an online program, “Prevention Course in HAI Knowledge and Control,” with best practices training for hospital clinicians in infection prevention and control, which was supported by an educational grant from BD.
- Optimizing the use of antibiotics, many of which are prescribed inappropriately (stewardship)
Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the Role of Diagnostics in the Antimicrobial Resistance Response. The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine developed this course in collaboration with BD and a global advisory group of experts.
Strengthening laboratory systems for performing AMR-related laboratory tests. To further strengthen capacities to combat AMR at both an individual laboratory level and across national laboratory systems, BD partnered with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), a Geneva-based NGO, to develop the new AMR Scorecard for Lab Quality Improvement.
Expanding capacity for AMR diagnostics in low- and middle-income countries. The Fleming Fund, a £265 million U.K. aid program, provides grants to improve the surveillance of AMR and generate relevant data that is shared nationally and globally. BD received grants for lab strengthening in 19 countries.
Publishing and highlighting drug-resistant trends. BD leverages data to produce meaningful analytics and insights for the scientific community. We have partnered with public health agencies and life sciences companies to produce more than 500 unique analytic toolsets, resulting in over 100 peer-reviewed publications and related presentations.
Learn more about how BD is helping to combat drug-resistant infections by listening to Dave Hickey, EVP & President, BD Life Sciences, speak at a panel at the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit or by visiting amr.bd.com
For the latest news and information on emerging AMR topics, visit the World Health Organization.
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