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Investors call for renewed focus tackling antimicrobial resistance

A new initiative has been launched to help accelerate investor action tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR), with the issue now thought to be responsible for at least 700,000 deaths each year.

27 JAN 2020 | CHRIS SEEKINGS
Antibiotic resistance a growing concern ©iStock
Antibiotic resistance a growing concern ©iStock


The ‘Investor Year of Action on AMR’ aims to align the financial sector with international guidelines like the World Health Organization’s global action plan on AMR.

Launched in Davos last week, the initiative will encourage investors to assess and integrate risks through an ‘AMR lens’, and to increase their engagement with investee companies.

It is supported by the £15trn-backed FAIRR investor network, the Principles for Responsible Investment, the Access to Medicine Foundation and the UK government.

FAIRR has previously warned of an “antibiotic crisis” facing food companies after finding that most are failing to reduce the excessive use of antibiotics in the rearing of animals.

However, its engagement with 20 global restaurant chains saw all of them adopt antibiotic stewardship policies, and the livestock industry has cut antibiotic use by 40% in five years.

"Money talks. From pension funds to private equity, we need to make 2020 the year of investor action on AMR,” said FAIRR found Jeremy Coller. “Left unchecked, antibiotic resistance will kill us way before climate change does.

"Our defences against AMR are wearing thinner by the day, and the microbes are getting tougher. We need urgent global change to combat AMR, and that needs investors in the driving seat."

The European Commission estimates that AMR already costs more than $1.5bn (£1.2bn) in healthcare expenses and productivity losses in the EU alone.

Moreover, the World Bank believes that AMR could cause greater economic damage than the 2008 financial crash, slashing global annual GDP by up to 3.8% by 2050.

It is an increasing concern for health services and governments, while the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) has set up a working party to explore the impact on insurers and reinsurers from a mortality perspective.

Former chief medical officer for England, professor Dame Sally Davies, said: “Addressing AMR is no small task, and one that requires global action.

“With our partners, we will be working to encourage investors to make public commitments for more sustainable investments to help address AMR.”


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