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Staff shortages hindering antibiotic progress

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Staff investment key to tackling AMR Staff investment key to tackling antimicrobial resistance

A global shortage of healthcare professionals is a 'major concern' in tackling antibiotic resistance stated a new report from economist Lord Jim O'Neill as part of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance.

The final report and recommendations on tackling drug-resistant infections stated that nurses, doctors, and pharmacists working in infection control and prescribing are 'the cornerstone of reducing unnecessary use of antimicrobials'.

Yet there are often key gaps in the basic and ongoing training for those who are likely to be routinely responsible for prescribing antimicrobials for their own patients. In the UK the number of specialists is higher than in other countries but far less emphasis is placed on understanding infectious disease among professionals in other fields.

'All of the interventions we recommend to address antimicrobial resistance by reducing unnecessary use of antimicrobials and increasing the number of new products available to treat infections depend on having a vibrant, well-trained and empowered workforce to implement them,' said the report.

Lord O'Neill recommended that governments and healthcare systems should expand funding and opportunities to increase the number and capacity of healthcare workers on the frontline of antimicrobial resistance.

The other steps to tackling antimicrobial resistance include launching a global public awareness campaign, improving hygiene, improving the global surveillance of drug resistance, promoting new, rapid diagnostics to cut unnecessary use of antibiotics and promoting the use of vaccines and alternatives.

Health Minister, Jane Ellison, said: 'The UK government will continue to lead the fight against antimicrobial resistance - working internationally through the G7, G20 and the UN General Assembly. We are already investing £366million in international surveillance and research, and are funding the development of ground breaking diagnostic tools to help people know when they really need antibiotics.'

She said that the government will be responding to the recommendations in detail.

UK prime minister David Cameron asked Lord O'Neill to analyse the global problem of antimicrobial resistance and to propose recommendations to tackle it. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance commenced from July 2014 in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust and engaged widely with key stakeholders. Today's report outlines the final recommendations from the review.

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