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Our Insights 13 Jul 2018

Private Sector Contributions to the Shared Global Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance

By Denise Delaney

Leading SustainAbility’s portfolio in health – including work with major pharmaceutical companies, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and the AMR Industry Alliance – Denise Delaney reflects on the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the need to spur collective action on it through engaging diverse stakeholders and partners.

What kind of action is needed and where?

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I was pleased to participate in the World Federation of Public Health Association’s International Global Health & Antimicrobial Resistance Workshop 2018 during the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva. In the run up, SustainAbility proudly joined many other organisations as a supporter of the WFPHA’s Call for Action on Antimicrobial Resistance. As part of the workshop, I led a conversation on the role of the private sector on AMR.

SustainAbility knows the contributions of the life sciences industry – biotechnology companies and SMEs, biopharmaceutical companies, generics medicine companies, and diagnostics companies – well, having been involved in the development of the metrics framework and first progress report for the AMR Industry Alliance, an alliance of over 100 companies and associations committed to work against AMR through R&D, stewardship, access and the environmental impact of manufacturing. The first progress report was issued in January 2018.

What kind of partnerships involving the private sector are possible?

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What did the group come up with in just 30 minutes in response to my prompts: What role can the private sector play? Which industries are best positioned for impact? What kind of action is needed and where? What kind of partnerships involving the private sector are possible?


From the healthcare and life sciences industries to food and agriculture, a broad set of private sector actors have a role.


Contributions are diverse:

  • Innovation, including not only cutting-edge solutions but basic research that can enable us to better understand AMR; for every antimicrobial product, develop the diagnostic tool alongside it to ensure it is used appropriately
  • Delivery on the ground, given extensive reach of many companies
  • Sharing knowledge and skills – for instance, with healthcare practitioners
  • AMR surveillance: Collecting, sharing and analysing data on pathogens
  • Advocacy for policies – both in terms of creating the right market conditions and ensuring appropriate use


Multi-stakeholder partnerships involving the private sector, with the following considered, will be essential:

  • As a principle for any partnership: Find common ground and a shared collective interest (i.e. where you agree), but also agree to disagree on the margins
  • Establish protocols appropriate for the types of partners involved – that is, considering any regulatory requirements or sensitivities of different types of organisations
  • Ensure partners share the risk and reward of solutions

As Professor Bettina Borisch, Executive Director of WFPHA, put it at the start of the day: we convened for the “the public’s health” – with, for and by the public. I left the day with a renewed commitment to continue to work on this complex topic.

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