Last week, ASLM2016 scientific co-chairs Rosanna Peeling and John Nkengasong attended the one-day high-level meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on antimicrobial resistance. It was only the fourth time the General Assembly has held a high-level meeting for a health issue, emphasising the severity of the global threat posed.

The primary objective of the meeting was to summon and maintain strong national, regional, and international political commitment in addressing antimicrobial resistance comprehensively and across sectors. It is estimated that 700,000 people globally die each year due to antimicrobial resistant illnesses or infections, according to the latest review on Antimicrobial Resistance. That death toll could rise to 10 million every year by 2050.

Participating at the General Assembly were the UN’s 193 member states, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, and academic institutions. At the meeting, heads of state agreed to develop national action plans to help improve drug effectiveness and pledged to strengthen regulation and improve reporting systems that track how drugs are used.

For our ASLM2016 scientific co-chairs, the statement by Peter Thomson, president of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, was important. He said, “No one country, sector, or organisation can address this issue alone.”

According to Dr. Peeling, “Antibacterial resistance can only be contained by an integrated approach that includes all stakeholders. Diagnostics are an under-recognised and underexploited tool for resistance containment.”

A publication from the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO) further highlights that urgent and coordinated action is required to ensure the preservation of these life-saving drugs for future generations. Governments should work together to develop and implement medicine policies and strategies that take into consideration the threat of resistance so as to limit the evolution and possible spread of drug-resistant germs. Addressing this threat requires people to work together on a global scale.

This idea of bringing people from different sectors and disciplines together to help solve common global health threats underpins ASLM2016. The conference will convene a community of scientists, innovators, decision-makers, policymakers, and private corporations from Africa and beyond. They will share research, debate, and generate solutions to build a strong African laboratory infrastructure to help combat common global health threats, like antimicrobial resistance as well as HIV/AIDS, Zika, tuberculosis, diabetes, and other medical conditions.

If you are working in this area, we invite you to join us for ASLM2016 in Cape Town, 3-8 December 2016. By attending the conference, you can help us work together to meet the UN’s goal and make the world a safer place to live.

To find out about registration, please click here.