On November 19-20, in Accra, Ghana, the United Nations Foundation, in partnership with the Wellcome Trust, the governments of Ghana, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, and the Inter-Agency Coordination Group (IACG) on Antimicrobial Resistance will bring together government ministers, scientists, industry representatives, and civil society leaders for the second international Call to Action on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Building on the inaugural Call to Action in 2017 held in Berlin, Germany, this two-day meeting will showcase the pioneering actions that individuals, organizations, and national governments are taking to tackle drug-resistant infections, and how these actions can be translated into sustainable impact at the international, regional, and multilateral levels.

With all the other global health issues going on right now, why are so many governments and organizations coming together to focus on AMR?

Because it’s urgent.

Globally, approximately 700,000 people die every year from drug-resistant infections. If we do not act, estimates show this toll could rise to 10 million deaths per year – surpassing the total annual global deaths due to cancer. In some countries, it’s estimated that up to 82% of infections are resistant to at least one of the most commonly used antibiotics. And by 2050, AMR is estimated to have a cumulative cost to the world economy of US$100 trillion.

Because it will take all of us.

AMR is not the individual responsibility of hospitals or national governments. It will take actions from multiple sectors, ranging from agriculture to health to government and the private sector. All of these sectors need to work together to solve this ever-growing problem. Reflecting the cross-cutting nature of AMR, this meeting will convene groups from across governments, industries, and communities to develop innovative solutions aimed at reducing illness and death caused by superbugs.

Because we already have solutions and can make progress now.

Thankfully, we have many of the tools we need to help stop AMR.

We know doctors shouldn’t prescribe antibiotics for viral infections, and patients have a responsibility to finish their full course of antibiotics.

We also know private companies like BD are leading the charge by ensuring hospital systems are equipped and well-trained to identify and properly address drug-resistant infections.

And despite facing the heaviest burden of disease, lower- and middle-income countries are also leading the way in pioneering activities to tackle superbugs. These countries will play an integral role in creating sustainable, multisectoral solutions to AMR on a large scale.

Because stopping AMR is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to the World Bank, by 2030, 24 million people in lower- and middle-income countries will be pushed into poverty if the spread of superbugs is not halted. If AMR is left unchecked, we will not only fail to achieve SDG 3 on health and well-being for all, but the other goals will be unattainable. By working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN agencies to address drug-resistant infections, the UN Foundation and our partners are working to stop AMR from become a stumbling block to SDG success.

We stand at the edge of a great need, but also a great opportunity. And we are seeing some progress, led by lower- and middle-income countries. A recent WHO report showed 93% of the countries it surveyed are developing or have developed a national action plan on AMR – a tool established to ensure countries are making a robust plan to address drug-resistant infections. This is an increase from up from 85% of countries the previous year. However, only 38% of countries have implemented this plan, and 15% of countries have no plan at all.

Next week’s Call to Action and its resulting declaration are opportunities to collectively learn best practices from those forging the path ahead and come away with the practical actions, policies, and governing frameworks needed to sustainably tackle AMR at global, regional, and national levels.

It will take a super effort to stop these superbugs. But we are ready to answer the call.