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Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health
Together for more healthy years
Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health
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AJSPH network meeting on AMR

Datum:12 september 2023

Predictions of the effects of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) show that if we don't discover new antimicrobials or find other ways to halt AMR, the number of deaths related to AMR will increase immensely. In order to prevent that, we need to work together on solutions on different levels and from different perspectives. The Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health organized a network meeting about AMR for all researchers working on this important topic on Thursday 7 September. Researchers from all kinds of disciplines attended; most of them work at the Faculty of Science and Engineering or the UMCG, but other essential disciplines, such as law and epidemiology, were also represented.

The meeting started with a pitch from prof. dr. Andreas Voss, professor in medical microbiology and infection control, who outlined the problem of AMR in a few slides. Though it sometimes seems that AMR is mostly a problem for low and middle income countries, the conclusion was clear: if we do not wish to make the Netherlands an island with no sex, no travel and no farming, it is essential that the Netherlands works together with other countries in Europe and around the globe to find solutions for AMR.

Dr. Marjon de Vos, assistant professor in microbial ecology and evolution, followed up with a plea for ecosystem interventions, by making clear that microbials behave in different ways depending on their environment. There are so many influencing factors that targeting the bug alone will not solve the problem, but may only delay its effects.

AJSPH's scientific director and professor in health law in a global context Brigit Toebes presented a legal perspective, discussing an international AMR treaty, similar to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

In the discussions that followed, it became very clear that not only do different disciplines in science need to work together on a holistic approach to reduce AMR, it is also of great importance that connections between science, society, and business are improved. Researchers are not always aware of the problems in society, whereas for example municipal health services are not aware of the possibilities science might provide to improve their instruments. In addition, it was pointed out that even in cases where new antimicrobials were invented, they were either placed in a safe for later use, making it unlucrative for businesses to invest in developing them, or they did not even make it to production because of patent regulations, a lack of time between invention and investments by businesses, or scientific regulations. Finally, it is very difficult for people outside academia and health services to understand AMR, so we need to work on an understandable language when talking about this topic, in order for all people to be able to understand its importance.

It is always a good sign when a meeting feels like it's much too short, as was the case with this AMR meeting. We will follow up with a second meeting in the efforts of strengthening the network that emerged here, and we welcome all scientists who'd like to work together on AMR to join us. If you want to join, let us know, and keep an eye out for new events!