Antimicrobial Resistance

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:42 pm on 17 April 2024.

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Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women) 4:42, 17 April 2024

That goes back to my first pillar of reducing and preventing infections in the first place. We need to do that domestically, but internationally we are also doing huge amounts of work in that space to improve water sanitation. With animal health, too, we have done a huge amount of work, in particular on antibiotic use in food. Among animals used in food production, the UK has reduced by 59% the amount of antibiotics going into the food chain, which has a knock-on effect.

We are also investing in innovation and capitalising on our world-leading science, including phage therapy, as my right hon. Friend Greg Clark pointed out. I had not heard about the Leamington Spa facility, and I am interested to catch up with him after the debate to see what more can be done. The National Institute for Health and Care Research is investing almost £90 million in that type of research, so if there is potential to develop that further, we are always keen to hear it. Our plan is cross-sectional, a one health approach, recognising the links between the health of humans, animals and the environment, and the spread of resistance between them.

We have a national action plan, which is not limited to activity in the UK. We all know that infections do not respect borders. As my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester said, we are therefore working internationally and taking a lead in many elements of that across the global community, with our UK special envoy on antimicrobial resistance, Dame Sally Davies, spearheading some of the effort. On updating my hon. Friend on the action plan post 2024, we are working it up as we speak and hope to make an announcement soon. There is an ongoing piece of work to drive forward some of the changes across the three sectors.

We are doing our bit here and are leading internationally, but my hon. Friend also touched on what is happening in other countries. Low and middle-income countries have to be part of the change so that we can safeguard ourselves against antimicrobial resistance.