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Prince William Brings Awareness to Antimicrobial Resistance

The Prince of Wales paid a visit to The Royal Society earlier this month to deliver a speech celebrating the global efforts in combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR).


The event, hosted by The Royal Society and the UK Government, highlighted emerging scientific research into AMR and provided a platform for various awareness campaigns. Some survivors of AMR also shared their personal experiences.


During the Prince’s speech, he spoke about the connections between drug resistance and climate change.


He said: “Rivers are polluted with antibiotics and oceans are filled with micro-plastics containing resistant bacteria. Meanwhile, deforestation is playing havoc with ecosystems, facilitating the emergence of new infectious diseases.”


HRH also stressed how the effects of AMR are “indiscriminate”, wreaking havoc on all countries, irrelevant of whether they are high or low income.


The visit came after the announcement that Prince William would become Patron of The Fleming Centre in 2023, a hub for pioneering research into tackling antimicrobial resistance, bringing together scientists, policymakers, researchers and healthcare professionals.


The Centre will be located at St Mary’s Hospital in London. The very place where Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, a finding that changed the future of modern medicine forever. It is due to open in 2028, and there is hope it will become a catalyst for change.


What is antimicrobial resistance, and can it be solved?


Antimicrobial resistance is a growing public health concern where bacteria and viruses evolve and stop responding to different antimicrobial medicines (antibiotics, antifungals).


Tried and tested antibiotics that have been around for decades become ineffective, making once-treatable infections impossible to treat and allowing diseases to spread very quickly.


While AMR is a process that happens naturally over time, its spread is being sped up by humans, with antimicrobials for treating and preventing illnesses being overused.


Estimations suggest that AMR is currently responsible for more than one million deaths each year, and by 2050, that number could increase to roughly 10 million deaths annually.


The UK’s special envoy on antimicrobial resistance, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be minuscule compared with what antimicrobial resistance can do.


Dame Sally has spent ten years trying to raise awareness of AMR and now sits on the UN Global Leaders Group on AMR, which is responsible for speeding up political action.


As AMR is an incredibly complex issue, uniting stakeholders from different sectors (health, animals, environment & food) to coordinate their actions is essential. It is called the ‘One Health’ approach.


AMR is an issue nobody can tackle alone, but thankfully, with the right funding and collaboration, it can be solved.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) say that progress and innovation within the sector have stalled during the past ten years and certainly since the COVID-19 pandemic, with delayed clinical trials and limited investors.


Prince William using his platform to garner awareness of AMR, is very welcome by those in the community. With his vast number of patronages and affiliations, including organisations from the health, environment and animal sectors, he is a strong candidate for uniting collaborators.


Photo credit: Royal.UK

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