9th September 2020

Our open letter calling for the appointment of a Cabinet Minister to address drug-resistant infections & pandemics has been published by the Daily Telegraph. Written by our President, Philip Howard OBE, on behalf of our council, it is co-signed by a wide range of global experts. Read the full letter below:

Letter to the Editor

SIR – We, the undersigned, fully support the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antibiotics’ call to the Prime Minister to appoint a Cabinet Minister with the sole responsibility of addressing drug-resistant infection and pandemic prevention and preparedness.

As representatives or associates of some of the world’s leading infection specialists, we think it is time the policy approach to pandemics (in this instance, SARS-CoV-2 leading to COVID-19) was combined with ongoing efforts to contain and control drug-resistant infection (both of which feature in the World Health Organization’s top 10 threats to global health). 

We welcome recent reports of the decision to appoint a ‘Head of Pandemic Preparedness’ to the civil service. But the scale, complexity, and urgency, of this challenge requires leadership, visibility, and accountability – as well as an elected representative with the ability to work across all Government departments and all areas of health and science (factory farming, for example, is already a major focus for those working on the prevention of drug-resistance – and is considered one of the most likely causes of the next influenza pandemic, while access to water, sanitation and hygiene offers a first line of defence against the spread of infections).

By taking decisive action now, the UK Government can show global leadership in an area that has the potential to prove more catastrophic, and more difficult to solve, than the current pandemic.

Yours faithfully,

Professor Philip Howard OBE

President of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (on behalf of its Council)


Co-signed by

Dr Manica Balasegaram FRCP, Executive Director, Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP)

Daniel Berman, Head of Global Health and Longitude Prize, Nesta Challenges

Dr Keith Brownlee, Director of Policy, Programmes and Support, Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Professor Colin Garner, Chief Executive, Antibiotic Research UK

Dr Roger Harrison, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Chair of ‘Action on Antibiotic Resistance: One Student, One Campus, One World’, University of Manchester, UK

Vickie Hawkins, Executive Director, MSF UK

Lord O’Neill, Chair of the ‘Review on Antimicrobial Resistance’

Kevin Outterson, Professor of Law, Boston University

Professor Laura JV Piddock, University of Birmingham, UK

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive,WaterAid

Read the version that appeared in the Daily Telegraph here.

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