It is spring in Geneva in green and lavender bloom. Martin Khor tells us that the problem we have traveled here to address is among the most serious of our time. Martin directs the South Centre, supported by and advising the governments of fifty developing countries. He is a lead architect of the global economic justice movement these several decades, and when he speaks, we all listen.
Many of the basic medicines we rely on worldwide to prevent infections are in danger of becoming ineffective in a matter of years due to antibiotic resistance. Antimalarials and antibacterials are already ineffective in parts of the world, causing death and threatening to make dangerous again basic hospital procedures and diseases we thought we had under control.
Martin and some of our colleagues rank antibiotic resistance as a problem comparable in its gravity to climate change. Resistance accumulates each day and we cannot turn back. We can only slow the pace of resistance and adapt in turn.
Anna, a Swedish scientist turned policy wonk working full-time on this problem, is a friend. Her organization, ReAct, has gathered experts from civil society groups around the world to develop a common platform on antibiotic resistance. Within and across our several sectors – biomedical innovation, access and rational use, agriculture and environment – we will help move our governments and international organizations toward what we believe will be a more effective response.
Our Antibiotic Resistance Coalition meets intensively for four days, teaching each other the lessons of our respective fields and conceiving cross-cutting projects. It is a pleasure working a plan with dedicated people.
Our last night in Geneva, I eat at Cottage Café with several colleagues. Each has made choices to live meaningfully or richly in the world at some cost. One practices Jainism. Another uprooted her life to move across the Atlantic and become a medical director with Medecins Sans Frontieres. A third married his same sex partner. We laugh heartily. Home is where friends gather. And I wonder if, along my clumsy path, I found the life I want.
Learn more about the Antibiotic Resistance Coalition.