Rapid diagnostics – warts and all: a final preview of the BSMT conference

This year’s British Society for Microbial Technology Annual Microbiology Conference will be held on
2 May at the UKHSA, Colindale, North London.
Here, BSMT Chair Dr Mark Wilks continues his preview of the meeting focusing on antimicrobial resistance, the UK government’s ambitious programme to control it, and how likely it is to succeed.

'Contained and controlled: the UK's
20-year vision for antimicrobial resistance' is the admirably optimistic title of the government policy paper on solving
the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by the year 2040. The action plan covers action across human and veterinary medicine, food production, agriculture and research, and focuses
on three key ways of tackling AMR:
i) reducing need for, and unintentional exposure to, antimicrobials; ii) optimising use of antimicrobials; and iii) investing in innovation, supply and access.

A laudable ambition and it's hard to argue against these three key ways, but how are things going so far? The UK's current five-year National Action Plan (NAP) on tackling AMR, which runs from 2019 to 2024, is coming to an end and as the next five-year NAP is currently being launched, progress made thus far towards the UK's commitments on AMR is being analysed. It should be pointed out that COVID-19 has had a derailing effect on this programme as in every other aspect of healthcare; indeed, several of our speakers have been seconded to work on different aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak from their normal areas of work.

It's worth looking at the outcomes of a meeting held in November 2022 of UK experts from across the human and animal sectors to discuss their thoughts on progress to date, as well as any recommendations and key considerations they thought should be taken forward.1 Overall, it was agreed that there was a major disparity between the increasing ambitions of the NAP, and the reducing financial support for achieving said ambitions. We will look at how this plays out in the area of STIs later in this article. The gap between evidence generation and implementing recommendations into real-world settings also presents a key challenge to overcome if the NAP's commitments are to be achieved.

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