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Governments can practically and efficiently address zoonoses and AMR –– within the text of the new pandemic instrument. We map the overlaps between the efforts needed to address both pandemic threats, including (a) equitable access to medical countermeasures, (b) globally integrated One Health surveillance and monitoring systems, (c) increased technical and laboratory capacity in low- and middle-income countries, and (d) a regulatory framework governing the stewardship of antimicrobials. By outlining potential dual-purpose provisions that could be included in a pandemic instrument, we argue that addressing AMR in the pandemic instrument is practicable, the most effective use of limited time and resources, and provides the best opportunity for future global pandemic readiness.
To address the complex challenge of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a pandemic treaty should include mechanisms that 1) equitably address the access gap for antimicrobials, diagnostic technologies, and alternative therapies; 2) equitably conserve antimicrobials to sustain effectiveness and access across time and space; 3) equitably finance the investment, discovery, development, and distribution of new technologies; and 4) equitably finance and establish greater upstream and midstream infection prevention measures globally. Biodiversity, climate, and nuclear governance offer lessons for addressing these challenges.
Despite recognition of the health threat posed at the human-animal-environment interface long ago, One Health has yet to be meaningfully integrated into global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. With the negotiation of the forthcoming pandemic instrument under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO) — which is inherently restricted by its own constitutional mandate of human health — One Health risks being sidelined once again. Genuine integration of a One Health approach into this treaty will require the institutionalization of formal One Health coordination mechanisms.
Ensuring that life-saving antimicrobials remain available as effective treatment options in the face of rapidly rising levels of antimicrobial resistance will require a massive and coordinated global effort. Setting a collective direction for progress is the first step towards aligning global efforts on AMR. This process would be greatly accelerated by adopting a unifying global target — a well-defined global target that unites all countries and sectors. The proposed pandemic instrument — with its focus on prevention, preparedness and response — represents an ideal opportunity to develop and adopt a unifying global target that catalyzes global action on AMR. We propose three key characteristics of a unifying global target for AMR that — if embedded within the pandemic preparedness instrument — could rally public support, funding, and political commitment commensurate with the scale of the AMR challenge.
Global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is currently governed by a decentralized regime complex composed of multiple institutions with overlapping and sometimes conflicting principles, norms, rules, and procedures. Such a decentralized regime complex provides certain advantages and disadvantages when compared to a centralized regime. A pandemic instrument can optimize the regime complex for AMR by leveraging the strengths of both centralization and decentralization. Existing climate treaties under the UNFCCC offer lessons for achieving this hybrid approach.
The inclusion of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and increased research and development (R&D) capabilities in the most recent outline of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) international pandemic instrument signals an opportunity to reshape pharmaceutical R&D system in favour of antimicrobial product development. This article explains why the current innovation ecosystem has disadvantaged the creation of antimicrobial products for human use. It also highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic experience can inform and stimulate international cooperation to implement innovative R&D incentives to bring new, life-saving antimicrobial products to the market.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the defining global health threats of our time, but no international legal instrument currently offers the framework and mechanisms needed to address it. Fortunately, the actions needed to address AMR have considerable overlap with the actions needed to confront other pandemic threats.
Prenatal choline is a key nutrient, like folic acid and vitamin D, for fetal brain development and subsequent mental function. We sought to determine whether effects of higher maternal plasma choline concentrations on childhood attention and social problems, found in an initial clinical trial of choline supplementation, are observed in a second cohort.
Of 183 mothers enrolled from an urban safety net hospital clinic, 162 complied with gestational assessments and brought their newborns for study at 1 month of age; 83 continued assessments through 4 years of age. Effects of maternal 16 weeks of gestation plasma choline concentrations ⩾7.07 μM, 1 s.d. below the mean level obtained with supplementation in the previous trial, were compared to lower levels. The Attention Problems and Withdrawn Syndrome scales on Child Behavior Checklist 1½–5 were the principal outcomes.
Higher maternal plasma choline was associated with lower mean Attention Problems percentiles in children, and for male children, with lower Withdrawn percentiles. Higher plasma choline concentrations also reduced Attention Problems percentiles for children of mothers who used cannabis during gestation as well as children of mothers who had gestational infection.
Prenatal choline's positive associations with early childhood behaviors are found in a second, more diverse cohort. Increases in attention problems and social withdrawal in early childhood are associated with later mental illnesses including attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia. Choline concentrations in the pregnant women in this study replicate other research findings suggesting that most pregnant women do not have adequate choline in their diets.
Cette étude examine les approches réglementaires de dix pays : la France, le Danemark, l’Australie, le Canada, les États-Unis, la Russie, le Japon, le Brésil, la Chine et l’Inde, relativement à la réglementation des antimicrobiens aux trois points d’entrée principaux dans le processus agricole, soit dans le cadre de la médecine vétérinaire, de la production agricole et de la vente des produits agricoles. Pour être efficace, la réglementation doit tenir compte du contexte dans lequel elle s’inscrit. Cette étude tente donc de tirer des leçons des dix juridictions ci-haut à la lumière des réalités qui entourent l’utilisation d’antimicrobiens dans les processus agricoles.
The devastating 2014–16 West African Ebola outbreak challenged the authority of the World Health Organization (WHO) to enforce the legally binding International Health Regulations (IHR) that govern pandemic responses. Under Article 43 of the IHR, states parties can only implement additional health measures beyond the WHO’s recommendations if public health rationales or scientific evidence justify such measures. Yet at least fifty-eight states parties enacted additional health measures, mainly travel restrictions to or from Ebola-affected countries. This article explains why Canada’s visa restrictions targeting Ebola-affected countries failed to meet the IHR’s requirements and therefore violated international law. Specifically, Canada’s response went against public health authorities’ consensus views, the best available scientific evidence on disease transmission, and the WHO’s recommendations. In light of its traditional role as a global health champion, Canada must lead by example and abide by international law, including the IHR, instead of picking and choosing which rules to follow and thereby encouraging other countries to do the same.
The rapid proliferation of international institutions has been a defining feature of the postwar international architecture. Since the end of the Second World War, the international system has seen the creation of thousands of international treaties and organizations that have established rules governing a multitude of issues that range from international security to human rights, and from international trade to the environment.
Epidemics are among the greatest threats to humanity, and the International Health Regulations are the world's key legal instrument for addressing this threat. Since their revision in 2005, the IHR have faced two big tests: the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Both exposed major shortcomings of the IHR, and both offered profound lessons for the future.
The objective of this Article is twofold. First, we seek to compare the lessons learned from H1N1 and Ebola for reforming the IHR in order to test the hypothesis that they are similar. Second, we seek to examine the barriers to implementing these lessons and to identify strategies for overcoming those barriers.
We find that the lessons from H1N1 and Ebola are indeed similar, and that opportunities to act on lessons from H1N1 were woefully missed. We identify many political barriers to global collective action and implementation of lessons for the IHR. On that basis, we describe strategies to overcome these barriers, which will hopefully be deployed now to reform the IHR before the policy window following Ebola closes, and before the inevitable next epidemic comes. The emerging threat of the Zika virus underscores that we have no time to waste.
Adopting international legal agreements for every global health challenge is not a good idea. Such an enterprise would require unprecedented political mobilization and resources that are impossible to sustain, and it would lead to further fragmentation in global health governance. International legalization also has its costs and trade-offs, including potentially devastating dark sides that we have tallied elsewhere.
Yet we believe that calls for an international legal agreement on antibiotic resistance (ABR) are important and that such an agreement is in fact much needed for the future of global health. We came to this conclusion based on a reasoned assessment of the facts before us — the potential benefits, costs, and trade-offs of an ABR legal agreement — and consideration of four criteria we previously proposed for prospectively evaluating proposals for new global health treaties.3 We came to this conclusion despite previously expressing concerns about adopting new international legal agreements on global health issues.
This article assesses which policies for addressing antibiotic resistance (ABR) as part of a multi-pronged approach would benefit from legalization through an international legal agreement. Ten candidate policies were identified based on a review of existing literature, especially The Lancet Series on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), The Lancet Infectious Diseases Commission on AMR, and the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Action Plan for AMR. These policies were then grouped under the headings of access, conservation, and innovation.
Each of the ten policies were assessed using four criteria developed by Hoffman, Røttingen, and Frenk to help consider why their legalization may be helpful, necessary and/or justified. These criteria are: (1) the problem has a significant transnational dimension; (2) the goal justifies the coercive nature of law; (3) the outcome is likely to be beneficial; and (4) legalization represents the best commitment mechanism among competing alternatives.
The nature and effectiveness of any international legal agreement is heavily shaped by the forum in which it is negotiated and implemented. This includes both the substantive content that global policymakers agree upon and the subsequent state compliance with those provisions. Forums differ in their institutional characteristics, thereby providing unique opportunities and costs for participating actors. Forums may have different mandates, capacities, cultures, members, and legal processes — all of which ultimately affect distributions of power and influence. These differences then shape how issues are framed, the content of agreements as they are negotiated, and the incentives states have to comply with any obligations.
Antibiotic resistance (ABR) is a common-pool resource challenge like those that global environmental scholars have been addressing for decades. Just like clean air, fish stocks, and oceans, antibiotic effectiveness shares the two defining qualities of a common good: it is rivalrous in that it is limited or subtractable upon use, and it is non-excludable in that it is very difficult to stop people from abusing them inappropriately. This is because each use of antibiotics increases the likelihood that affected bacteria will adapt and evolve in ways that makes them less susceptible to these bacteria- harming antibiotics. The natural development of resistance is what separates antibiotics from most other medicines — the use of which do not affect the effectiveness of these medicines for others.
Most proposals for new international agreements aim to address important global challenges. If the goal is to solve problems, then the value of these agreements depends on their ability to influence the world — to shape norms, constrain behavior, facilitate cooperation, and mobilize action. A recent review of empirical studies has suggested that many international agreements fail to achieve their aspirations. The review indicates that the form in which states make commitments to each other — through an international legal agreement or through other means — may not be as important as commonly thought. It is the content of the commitments and how these are supported by mechanisms to encourage implementation that matter the most. When developing proposals for new international agreements, like the one that has recently been proposed to address antibiotic resistance (ABR), attention to implementation mechanisms should therefore be equal to if not greater than the attention paid to its form.
Of the many global health challenges facing the world today, only a small number require global collective action. Most health challenges can be fully addressed through action at local, regional or national levels.
What kind of actions must be taken to address the global threat of antibiotic resistance (ABR)? What legal, political and economic tools might be needed to achieve this level of action?
In March 2015 the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation convened a workshop in Uppsala, Sweden to address these questions in partnership with the Global Strategy Lab, the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (JLME), the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and ReAct — Action on Antibiotic Resistance. Eleven concise articles were commissioned to explore whether ABR depended on global collective action, and if so, what tools could help states and non-state actors to achieve it.