BMA warns Brexit could hamper antimicrobial action plan

Author: Adrian O'Dowd
BMA warns Brexit could hamper antimicrobial action plan
Efforts to tackle the growth of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the UK could be significantly undermined by the impact of the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU), it has been claimed.

Reacting to yesterday’s announcement by the government of a new AMR action plan, the British Medical Association (BMA) said it doubted how easy it would be to achieve the various aims of the plan which aims to ensure current antibiotics stay effective by cutting the number of resistant infections.

Under the plan, the government has set targets to cut the number of drug-resistant infections by 10% by 2025, reduce the use of antibiotics in humans by 15%, and prevent at least 15,000 patients from contracting infections as a result of their healthcare each year by 2024.

Support for clinicians to prescribe antibiotics appropriately will also be provided as well as expectations that the drug industry will take more responsibility for antibiotic resistance.

However, the BMA later reacted, saying that Brexit would severely impact on the government’s 20-year vision for AMR.

BMA public health medicine committee chair, Dr Peter English, said: “It is important that the government is making progress in addressing what is a serious threat to public health care and, as such, recognises the importance of international collaboration to truly tackle the scale of the problem.

“Given however, the significant disruption that Brexit is likely to cause both in the immediate and long-term, the BMA is concerned that such efforts may be thwarted, particularly if the UK’s relationship with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is compromised.”

AMR, along with many other threats such as infectious disease outbreaks and climate change, was not confined by borders, he added, saying: “Cooperation with Europe is therefore paramount to research and surveillance efforts that can better enable us to plan for pandemics and respond to global health threats.

“This is one of the more alarming examples of how Brexit could potentially pose a massive threat to public health and the government must act now to prevent this from becoming a reality.”