WHO Promotes Action on Antibiotic Resistance, Antenatal Care, and Health Emergencies
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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The World Health Organization (WHO) is promoting action on antibiotic resistance through an awareness-raising campaign and promotion of responsible antibiotic use in farming, animal husbandry, and human healthcare.

WHO is also seeking to improve women's health and reduce stillbirths, by promoting better healthcare during pregnancy.

The Interagency Standing Committee (IASC) is developing standard operating procedures for responding on global health emergencies.

14 November 2016: The World Health Organization (WHO) is promoting action to address antibiotic resistance and improve antenatal care, as countries step up cooperation to respond on global health emergencies. The UN is also advancing its work on global health emergency response, and the WHO launched an antenatal care model.

Unless urgent action is taken, a “post-antibiotic era” could occur, in which the benefits now possible through chemotherapy and major surgery will be lost.

WHO, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), launched a week-long campaign on 14 November on the theme ‘Antibiotics: Handle with Care.’ The campaign seeks to stem the rise in antibiotic resistance, which it says has occurred due to the improper use of antibiotics in animal husbandry, farming, and human health care. WHO warns that unless urgent action is taken, a “post-antibiotic era” could occur, in which infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and blood poisoning will become much harder to treat, and the benefits now possible through chemotherapy and major surgery will be lost. The agency highlights international standards for the responsible use of antibiotics, and the need for antibiotics to be used only under supervision by professionals.

At the UN General Assembly’s High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance in September 2016, country leaders agreed to cooperate to address the root causes of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Following on the Political Declaration of that meeting, countries will be developing national action plans to combat AMR, based on the global action plan endorsed in May 2015 by the World Health Assembly, WHO’s governing body.

Meanwhile, WHO launched an antenatal care model aimed at increasing the chances of healthy pregnancies and safe delivery, especially for first-time mothers. The model, launched on 8 November 2016, encourages a minimum of eight consultations with health care providers during pregnancy, early ultrasound to detect abnormalities, and sharing of advice on nutrition, family planning and healthy lifestyles.

In addition, the UN has been advancing its work on global health emergency response through the work of the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC), which is developing standard operating procedures (SOP) for responding to health crises such as the spread of Ebola and the Zika virus. On 11 November, WHO and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) briefed the UNGA on progress. Introducing the session, UNGA President Peter Thomson highlighted the importance of joint action on global health emergencies, in view of their negative impact on social and economic development, social cohesion, and national and regional security. He noted that these impacts undermine “hard-won development gains,” and threaten countries’ ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). [UN Press Release] [WHO Press Release] [UNGA President Statement] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on HLM] [World Antibiotics Awareness Week 2016]


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