Antimicrobial resistance, a global threat

B·Debate and ISGlobal bring together experts from around the world in Barcelona to debate how to improve resistance to drugs and the lack of new drugs to treat infections caused by resistant bacteria


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a great concern in terms of global health for various reasons: it results in prolonged illness and greater risk of death, causes patients to be infected for a longer period of time leading to increased probability of spreading resistant microorganisms to others, and when infections stop responding to first-line drugs, more complex drugs are required and there is a possibility that all possibilities may be exhausted. Moreover, the longer duration of the infection and the treatment increases healthcare expenditure and the economic and social impact.

To give an example, each year 440,000 new cases of multiresistant tuberculosis are diagnosed, leading to at least 150,000 deaths around the world.

On 5, 6 and 7 November, national and international scientists and experts in this subject will meet at CosmoCaixa Barcelona called together by B·Debate and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in collaboration with the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) and the Spanish Network for Research in Infectious Diseases (REIPI). The aim is to promote debate among public health authorities, regulatory bodies and pharmaceutical companies that participate in the prevention and treatment of infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to multiple drugs.

These B·Debate scientific debates, entitled The Global Threat of Antimicrobial resistance. Science for Intervention, focus on three main topics: drugs resistance, factors that affect the emergence and propagation of multiresistant bacteria and the lack of new drugs to treat infections caused by resistant bacteria.

Antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs have been used to treat patients with these infectious diseases for the past 70 years. Since the 1940s, these drugs have drastically reduced the mortality rate of infectious diseases. The use of antibiotics has been beneficial and, when prescribed and taken properly, they are invaluable to patient care. However, widespread use of these drugs over such a long period of time has led the infectious organisms they are meant to eliminate to develop a resistance, diminishing or eliminating their effectiveness completely. This phenomenon has also been seen with many types of fungi, viruses and parasites.

Inappropriate use of antimicrobial drugs is a decisive factor in pharmacoresistance, and other contributing factors include overuse and self-medication. Prescribing healthcare professionals, pharmacists, the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory agencies play a key role in ensuring that patients are aware of the need to take the right doses of the right antimicrobial drugs.

The population’s increasing mobility allows resistant microorganisms to spread quickly to far away countries and continents. The challenge is complex and must be tackled on a global level, taking into account issues like the diversity of healthcare systems in different countries.

The scientific leader of this event is Dr. Jordi Vila, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Initiative at CRESIB (ISGlobal research center), head of the Hospital Clínic Department of Clinical Microbiology and professor of Medicine at the University of Barcelona.

Other noteworthy participants in this B·Debate session will include Gunnar Kahlmeter, professor of Clinical Bacteriology at Uppsala University and head of the Department of Clinical Microbiology at Växjö Central Hospital (Sweden), and Fernando Baquero, scientific director for the Ramon y Cajal Institute of Healthcare Research at Ramón y Cajal University Hospital in Madrid.