In the fight to combat antibiotic resistance, researchers should strengthen their advocacy.
The growing threat of antibiotic resistance has seen a notable rise in awareness among policy-makers and the public (see Nature 495, 141; 2013). This is largely because of the advocacy of researchers, who have urged that the problem be tackled immediately. But antibiotic resistance is a multifaceted global issue, and a coordinated international effort will be needed to maintain the pressure to act.
Some relatively simple interventions could impede the march of resistance and buy time for research responses — such as advising physicians not to give unnecessary prescriptions of antibiotics, and limiting antibiotic use in livestock for growth promotion (see page 398).But experience has shown how difficult it is to change the expectations of patients and physicians, and agriculture lobbies are not going to give up the use of antibiotics without a fight. Attaining even the low-hanging fruit will therefore be a hard-fought battle that will need persistence.
Yet that call is increasingly being heard (see page 394), and the time is ripe for galvanizing sluggish political will. International public- or animal-health agencies and national authorities are now fully aware of the looming threat, and the World Health Organization in particular has been active in sounding the alarm (see go.nature.com/tzwdmz). Furthermore, antibiotic resistance seems to be moving up the agenda of research funders, although much remains to be done to increase the overall level of funding and to ring-fence it — specifically for research into discovering and developing new antibiotics.
Researchers must continue to lobby politicians, funding agencies and the pharmaceutical industry over the need to implement effective means to curtail the rampant spread of resistance, and to address the glaring dearth of new antibiotics in the drug-development pipeline.
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MRSA: Farming up trouble 2013-Jul-24
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Sustainable farming: Get pigs off antibiotics 2012-Jun-27
Rules tighten on use of antibiotics on farms 2012-Jan-10
Fix the antibiotics pipeline 2011-Apr-06
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Antibiotic threat. Nature 499, 379 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/499379b