Tag Archives: Fight

Feel the beat: deaf fans fight for access to live music

Growing up among the reggae soundsystems and pirate radio stations of 1980s Hackney, Troi Lee was surrounded by music, “speakers on the street corners blaring”. After getting a Walkman for his 14th birthday, he would wander through his neighbourhood playing songs by Public Enemy on repeat: “It was pure joy,” he says. This passion led Lee to follow in the footsteps of his cousin John and become a DJ. It’s a common enough path – except that Lee was born severely deaf.

Deaf Rave founder Troi Lee.
Deaf Rave founder Troi Lee. Photograph: Vaya Media

With his hearing aids on the telecoil setting, he could hear certain frequencies of his Walkman – the bass vibrations from the percussion and glimpses of lyrics – through a magnetic wireless signal. When DJing, Lee, now 44, uses digital software to visualise the instrumental elements that he mixes together. “We need to reverse the myth that deaf people can’t enjoy music,” Lee says. “I don’t let my deafness affect me. I want to show the world that deaf people can play music just as well as our hearing peers.”

The idea that deafness impedes the appreciation of music is gradually being debunked. In 2013, sign language interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego went viral in the US for her animated performance for rapper Kendrick Lamar at the Lollapalooza festival. Rather than merely signing the words, she embodies musical textures with her face and movements, showcasing a unique technique that she describes as “showing the density of sounds visually”. To represent bass, she places her arms in front of the lower part of her body and inflates her face, replicating the sign for “fat”, while higher frequencies are placed at head height and above. After her performance, US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel took notice, inviting her and fellow interpreters Holly Maniatty and JoAnn Benfield on his show for a “sign language rap battle” in 2014.

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Amber Galloway Gallego signing for Kendrick Lamar at Lollapalooza festival, 2013 – video

Despite some progress, a report by accessibility charity Attitude Is Everything recently stated that in the UK over 80% of deaf and disabled music fans have experienced problems when booking tickets to live music events. The UK’s live music census in February also found that only 30% of surveyed venues have dedicated disabled-access areas and only 7% of surveyed promoters have a policy to provide PA (personal assistant for deaf and disabled customers) tickets as standard. Yet it’s estimated that more than 3.3m deaf and disabled fans attend live music events every year, with a 70% rise in disabled-access ticket sales reported in 2016.

With one in six people suffering from hearing loss in the UK and around one in 1,000 children born profoundly deaf, the lack of accessibility to live music for deaf people is a significant challenge, and deaf fans believe too little is being done to serve their needs. “I don’t go to live shows very often as they’re not that accessible,” says writer Rebecca Withey, who is profoundly deaf. “There is absolutely not enough provision for us, and ironically when some venues do host accessible shows, they don’t promote them well enough for us to find out about them.”

For some fans, difficulties around access can put an end to nights out altogether. “Being ignored by the music industry has made me disengage from live music,” says deaf journalist and film-maker Charlie Swinbourne. Fans say specialist provisions are crucial: interpreting should be as readily available in the UK as it appears to be in the US, says student Liam O’Dell, while Lee believes that “all promoters should allocate a certain number of tickets for deaf and disabled people”.

Clubbers at Troi Lee’s Deaf Rave night.


Clubbers at Troi Lee’s Deaf Rave night. Photograph: Vaya Media

Small steps are being made towards inclusivity: festivals such as Glastonbury and Festival Republic events Reading, Leeds and Latitude all provide BSL interpreting on request. Still, the provision can face obstacles. “When access is permitted it is often done so reluctantly – it is not widely advertised, left unregulated and is often of an inadequate standard,” says Marie Pascall, director of Performance Interpreting, which provides the service for Festival Republic. She describes one instance where “an act refused to have the interpreter on stage, and then refused for the interpreter to sign any of their performance”.

Troi Lee has taken matters into his own hands. In 2003 he founded Deaf Rave, a quarterly event in London designed specifically for deaf clubbers. The inspiration came from his experiences at illegal warehouse parties in the early 1990s, where the speakers amplified the vibrations he had once enjoyed through his Walkman. “It’s something I can’t quite describe,” he says, “the lasers blazing up the place and the biggest soundsystems I have ever seen or felt, shaking the entire warehouse.” From that moment in 1991, he set out to convince the deaf community that clubbing was as much a part of their culture as the hearing world’s. Through heightened bass levels and the use of new technology such as SubPac – a wearable speaker that intensifies vibrations – Lee can make his events immersive.

The organisation celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, but Lee says there is still much to be done. Deaf people are twice as likely to suffer from depression as hearing people. Withey says: “There’s still a huge stigma attached to being a deaf music fan.” Says Lee: “We are one of the most marginalised groups in society, owing to our isolation, unemployment, lack of BSL in mainstream schools and the daily frustrations of communication barriers. We organised Deaf Rave because we have empathy for our community.”

The fight against polio continues – archive, 16 May 1957

Vaccination against poliomyelitis will this year continue through the summer months. Last year, when it was thought there might be a risk of vaccination increasing an epidemic, the programme was stopped through the summer months but, as the Minister of Health announced to the Commons yesterday, he has taken advice from a joint committee set up by the Central and Scottish Health Services Council that vaccination need not be suspended from risk of provoking paralysis.

In his long and detailed statement the Minister also gave encouraging news of increased production of the vaccine and announced that registration for vaccination will be extended. Last year parents of children born between 1947 and 1954 inclusive were given the chance of registering their children for vaccination.

Of the total number of children 31 per cent or 1,910,000 were so registered and of these about 750.000 have so far been vaccinated. The Minister is hoping that if no further production or testing difficulties are encountered those remaining on the list will have been vaccinated by the end of the summer. He has therefore decided that registration will now be extended first to children born in 1955 and 1956 and then to children born between 1947 and 1954 whose parents did not register them last year.

Second chance

The Minister has thought it wise to give this second chance to parents knowing that when registration was opened last year there were still doubts in many people’s minds. Rather than extend vaccination to other age groups he has thought it best to concentrate on the age group below 10 years-old, which is the most vulnerable to the disease.

Another decision which the Minister announced yesterday was that he will not authorise the importation of the American polio vaccine. The reason is that the British vaccine has a different composition and on every count the Minister considers it safer than the American vaccine while being just as effective.

On the assumption that production and vaccination will continue at the present rate the Minister hopes the children already registered will all have been vaccinated by the end at the summer. In the next batch for registration, the 1955-1956 age group, there are some 1,506,000 children and it is expected that a greater proportion than a third will this time register.


Four months’ figures

The decision not to suspend vaccination was not influenced by the large number of cases reported in the first four months of the year, which is more than in any previous year. The Minister is anxious that there should be no undue alarm at the figures. The figures for the first part of the year are not necessarily a reliable indication of the virulence of any epidemic later in the summer. At present this year the unusually large figures are limited to selected areas in the country.

Though the younger age groups, as the most vulnerable, are to be covered first the Minister will not shut his eyes later on to the need for extending the programme to older children and even to adults.

Parents of Alfie Evans lose court fight over life support

The parents of a 23-month-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment battle have lost their latest legal fight to allow the child to be moved to a foreign hospital for treatment.

Court of appeal judges ruled on Monday that Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, could not take their son Alfie Evans abroad to receive treatment for a rare degenerative brain disease.

Alfie Evans


Alfie Evans. Photograph: PA

The couple, from Liverpool, have already lost cases in the high court, court of appeal, supreme court and European court of human rights. Judges have heard that Alfie is in a “semi-vegetative state” and that further treatment would be futile.

The child’s parents want to move their son to a hospital in Rome where they believe he will receive better treatment. They say doctors at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool have refused to let them remove Alfie from the premises.

On Monday afternoon, appeal judges Lord Justice Davis, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan upheld a ruling by high court judge Mr Justice Hayden, who endorsed a detailed plan put forward by Alder Hey doctors for withdrawing life-support treatment.

Hayden said details of that plan could not be revealed because Alfie was entitled to privacy at the end of his life.

Barrister for the parents, Paul Diamond, said the couple might make a further appeal to the Supreme Court. Appeal court judges said doctors should continue treating Alfie pending a Supreme Court decision.

Last week, Alfie’s parents said their son had improved in recent weeks and they had asked Hayden to allow a new assessment, but he refused. The judge said the unanimous view of medical experts was that Alfie’s brain had been eroded by disease and further assessment was pointless. The child’s parents also suggested that Alfie was being unlawfully detained at Alder Hey, but the judge dismissed that suggestion.

The latest challenge came as Alder Hey children’s hospital employed extra security personnel because of demonstrations in support of the toddler’s parents. The hospital said noise from protesters outside the building on Sunday night had disturbed other young patients.

Some hospital visitors described the protest as “a circus” and said there was a bouncy castle, people drinking alcohol, and “children running everywhere” as 100 supporters gathered outside on Sunday night.

One patient’s relative, who did not want to be named, told BBC Radio Merseyside that visiting Alder Hey was “intimidating and scary” and that she heard chants of “burn it down” from protestors, which she said was “taking it too far”.

Alder Hey said in a statement: “We would ask that noise levels outside the hospital are kept to a minimum and for example car horns are not sounded.

“Loud and constant noise, such as from car horns, affects sleep and raises anxiety levels for our patients, especially when recovering from procedures, so please bear them in mind.”

Shortly after the statement, Evans posted a video on Facebook of Alfie’s hospital room, from which he said patients could only hear the noise outside if the window was opened. Car horns and cheering could be heard when Evans did so.

Alder Hey advised visitors that there would be more security inside the hospital “and a more controlled approach to access to certain areas”.

The fight goes on to ensure healthcare is not a privilege reserved for the rich | Lucy Lamble

On this World Health Day, 7 April, the World Health Organization marks its 70th anniversary.

It has notched up some notable achievements such as the efforts to eradicate diseases like smallpox, a convention on tobacco control and a framework to prevent flu pandemics. Alongside this runs coordinating work on global standards and guidelines for essential drugs, diagnosis, treatment and health workers.

World Health Day this year will focus on one of WHO’s founding principles: “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”

This language and the creation of the World Health Organization on 7 April 1948 reflect the post-war times. Leaders, galvanised by the devastation of the years of conflict, were open to building societies afresh, incorporating basic values such as the right to health.

That same year, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UK set up a National Health Service to meet the needs of its population regardless of income or social access, and the country has reaped the social and economic gains ever since.

Since then, WHO’s membership has tripled to 194 member states, with developing countries now in the majority. The organisation relies on the interest of states being met by working together for the greater good, to prevent infectious diseases like Sars from crossing borders, for example, or to tackle common risks like drug resistance. But huge inequities in health provision between richer and poorer countries persist. While Europe and America might prioritise health security, for many developing countries, providing fairer access to quality healthcare must come first.

The challenge of increasing drug resistance highlights the complexities of the WHO’s role. The organisation has warned that too few antibiotics are in the pipeline to tackle the rise of infections that are close to untreatable. While research and development play a part, controlling access to antibiotics is also vital. In poorer states, the health systems aren’t always in place to facilitate that – if the majority of your population don’t have dependable access to a doctor or nurse qualified to prescribe, and would therefore be at risk of dying from an infection for want of a signature, how can you enforce such restrictions?

The election last year of Ethiopian Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as WHO’s director general is part of the slow shift to greater representation for developing countries. Tedros has a fine line to walk for his five-year term if he is to keep donor confidence to raise core funds and maintain the organisation’s independence, while delivering on WHO’s founding remit.

Wealthier countries still use their financial influence. Only 20% of WHO’s activity is untied core funding from member states. The remaining 80%, a combination of government funding, philanthropy and the private sector, is money earmarked for specific projects. Without greater member state contributions, this looks to be the WHO’s reality.

The field of global health has become a more crowded place. The World Bank secured significant funds in the misguided structural adjustment era championing user fees and so was able to sweeten advice with loans and grants. More recently the arrival of the more narrowly defined remits and nimbler decision-making of the Global Fund (to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria) and the vaccine alliance Gavi have also attracted significant funds.

The appointment of a health professional, Jim Yong Kim, as president of the World Bank, with invaluable experience of healthcare in resource-strapped settings, was encouraging. Yet the Bank can do more. There is an inherent contradiction if another part of the organisation is advising investment in countries with low tax regimes when public finance has been shown to be key to delivering sustainable health services.

Growth won’t bring countries prosperity without ensuring citizens’ core health needs are met – health has a huge impact on economic and social development. An international body like the WHO can’t deliver universal access alone but must convince national governments to invest in health.

The previous director general, Margaret Chan, found a way to make member states cooperate again but as the Ebola crisis showed, some tensions still need tackling. Tedros has a diplomatic tightrope to walk. Despite an early misstep over the Mugabe appointment, there is still good will for his tenure and he will need to deploy all his political skills to ensure the next 70 years bring us closer to health access for everyone.

For all its imperfections, WHO still has a vital role. We need its convening power as much as we did in 1948. Its failings reflect our current global health inequality and its challenges the politics of redressing this.

Ways to step up the fight against global antimicrobial resistance | Letters

With drug-resistant infections now causing the deaths of half a million people a year, access to clean water and decent sanitation has never been more vital in the race to prevent a global antimicrobial resistance catastrophe. As Dame Sally Davies poignantly highlighted in your report (Experts issue new warning on overuse of antibiotics, 27 March), “the importance of clean water, sanitation and vaccination must not be forgotten to avoid infections occurring in the first place”. This point, alongside the critical role of hygiene, is absolutely key.

This is already a global health emergency, with 844 million people lacking access to clean water and 2.3 billion without safe, private toilets. In developing nations almost 40% of healthcare facilities do not have a water supply, 19% do not provide adequate sanitation and 35% do not have soap and water to sustain good hygiene practices. Without these basics in place, infection prevention and control in healthcare settings becomes almost impossible. So it is no surprise that hospital-acquired infections are the third major driver of antimicrobial resistance globally.

Diarrhoea, pneumonia and cholera are often preventable through basic improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. When they strike, the pathogens that cause these infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, and are becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs.

Antibiotic use to prevent diarrhoea could be cut by 60% in India, Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil simply by improving people’s access to water and sanitation, and improving hygiene behaviours. Disease outbreaks are harder to control when sanitation is poor and there is no clean water.

Yet progress on delivering water, sanitation and hygiene is too slow, and not sufficiently threaded throughout the efforts to tackle this looming antibiotic crisis. World decision-makers must acknowledge the pivotal role that water, sanitation and hygiene play in preventing infection and reducing the spread of resistant pathogens, before the next global health crisis hits. Investment in all three elements of water, sanitation and hygiene must be prioritised, and coordinated with other efforts to address the rise of antimicrobial resistance, globally, nationally and locally.

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Never have those words been more true and more urgent.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

Your report makes a strong case for concern about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But it ignores the elephant in the room – or rather, the pig and the chicken. The developed world still uses a lot more antibiotics than developing countries, and the vast majority of these are fed to animals on factory farms. Though not taking antibiotics for a sore throat can help extend the usefulness of current antibiotics, changing the way we produce meat is much more important.

Plant-based meat from new cutting-edge companies like Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains is both delicious and sustainable, and doesn’t require any antibiotics. And clean meat – actual animal meat grown outside of the animal, with no antibiotics necessary – is rapidly approaching price competitiveness, thanks to the efforts of companies like Memphis Meats.

Moving quickly to plant-based and clean meat is the best thing we can do to avoid pandemics of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Matt Ball
The Good Food Institute

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Ways to step up the fight against global antimicrobial resistance | Letters

With drug-resistant infections now causing the deaths of half a million people a year, access to clean water and decent sanitation has never been more vital in the race to prevent a global antimicrobial resistance catastrophe. As Dame Sally Davies poignantly highlighted in your report (Experts issue new warning on overuse of antibiotics, 27 March), “the importance of clean water, sanitation and vaccination must not be forgotten to avoid infections occurring in the first place”. This point, alongside the critical role of hygiene, is absolutely key.

This is already a global health emergency, with 844 million people lacking access to clean water and 2.3 billion without safe, private toilets. In developing nations almost 40% of healthcare facilities do not have a water supply, 19% do not provide adequate sanitation and 35% do not have soap and water to sustain good hygiene practices. Without these basics in place, infection prevention and control in healthcare settings becomes almost impossible. So it is no surprise that hospital-acquired infections are the third major driver of antimicrobial resistance globally.

Diarrhoea, pneumonia and cholera are often preventable through basic improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. When they strike, the pathogens that cause these infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, and are becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs.

Antibiotic use to prevent diarrhoea could be cut by 60% in India, Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil simply by improving people’s access to water and sanitation, and improving hygiene behaviours. Disease outbreaks are harder to control when sanitation is poor and there is no clean water.

Yet progress on delivering water, sanitation and hygiene is too slow, and not sufficiently threaded throughout the efforts to tackle this looming antibiotic crisis. World decision-makers must acknowledge the pivotal role that water, sanitation and hygiene play in preventing infection and reducing the spread of resistant pathogens, before the next global health crisis hits. Investment in all three elements of water, sanitation and hygiene must be prioritised, and coordinated with other efforts to address the rise of antimicrobial resistance, globally, nationally and locally.

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Never have those words been more true and more urgent.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

Your report makes a strong case for concern about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But it ignores the elephant in the room – or rather, the pig and the chicken. The developed world still uses a lot more antibiotics than developing countries, and the vast majority of these are fed to animals on factory farms. Though not taking antibiotics for a sore throat can help extend the usefulness of current antibiotics, changing the way we produce meat is much more important.

Plant-based meat from new cutting-edge companies like Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains is both delicious and sustainable, and doesn’t require any antibiotics. And clean meat – actual animal meat grown outside of the animal, with no antibiotics necessary – is rapidly approaching price competitiveness, thanks to the efforts of companies like Memphis Meats.

Moving quickly to plant-based and clean meat is the best thing we can do to avoid pandemics of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Matt Ball
The Good Food Institute

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Ways to step up the fight against global antimicrobial resistance | Letters

With drug-resistant infections now causing the deaths of half a million people a year, access to clean water and decent sanitation has never been more vital in the race to prevent a global antimicrobial resistance catastrophe. As Dame Sally Davies poignantly highlighted in your report (Experts issue new warning on overuse of antibiotics, 27 March), “the importance of clean water, sanitation and vaccination must not be forgotten to avoid infections occurring in the first place”. This point, alongside the critical role of hygiene, is absolutely key.

This is already a global health emergency, with 844 million people lacking access to clean water and 2.3 billion without safe, private toilets. In developing nations almost 40% of healthcare facilities do not have a water supply, 19% do not provide adequate sanitation and 35% do not have soap and water to sustain good hygiene practices. Without these basics in place, infection prevention and control in healthcare settings becomes almost impossible. So it is no surprise that hospital-acquired infections are the third major driver of antimicrobial resistance globally.

Diarrhoea, pneumonia and cholera are often preventable through basic improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. When they strike, the pathogens that cause these infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, and are becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs.

Antibiotic use to prevent diarrhoea could be cut by 60% in India, Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil simply by improving people’s access to water and sanitation, and improving hygiene behaviours. Disease outbreaks are harder to control when sanitation is poor and there is no clean water.

Yet progress on delivering water, sanitation and hygiene is too slow, and not sufficiently threaded throughout the efforts to tackle this looming antibiotic crisis. World decision-makers must acknowledge the pivotal role that water, sanitation and hygiene play in preventing infection and reducing the spread of resistant pathogens, before the next global health crisis hits. Investment in all three elements of water, sanitation and hygiene must be prioritised, and coordinated with other efforts to address the rise of antimicrobial resistance, globally, nationally and locally.

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Never have those words been more true and more urgent.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

Your report makes a strong case for concern about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But it ignores the elephant in the room – or rather, the pig and the chicken. The developed world still uses a lot more antibiotics than developing countries, and the vast majority of these are fed to animals on factory farms. Though not taking antibiotics for a sore throat can help extend the usefulness of current antibiotics, changing the way we produce meat is much more important.

Plant-based meat from new cutting-edge companies like Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains is both delicious and sustainable, and doesn’t require any antibiotics. And clean meat – actual animal meat grown outside of the animal, with no antibiotics necessary – is rapidly approaching price competitiveness, thanks to the efforts of companies like Memphis Meats.

Moving quickly to plant-based and clean meat is the best thing we can do to avoid pandemics of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Matt Ball
The Good Food Institute

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Ways to step up the fight against global antimicrobial resistance | Letters

With drug-resistant infections now causing the deaths of half a million people a year, access to clean water and decent sanitation has never been more vital in the race to prevent a global antimicrobial resistance catastrophe. As Dame Sally Davies poignantly highlighted in your report (Experts issue new warning on overuse of antibiotics, 27 March), “the importance of clean water, sanitation and vaccination must not be forgotten to avoid infections occurring in the first place”. This point, alongside the critical role of hygiene, is absolutely key.

This is already a global health emergency, with 844 million people lacking access to clean water and 2.3 billion without safe, private toilets. In developing nations almost 40% of healthcare facilities do not have a water supply, 19% do not provide adequate sanitation and 35% do not have soap and water to sustain good hygiene practices. Without these basics in place, infection prevention and control in healthcare settings becomes almost impossible. So it is no surprise that hospital-acquired infections are the third major driver of antimicrobial resistance globally.

Diarrhoea, pneumonia and cholera are often preventable through basic improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. When they strike, the pathogens that cause these infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, and are becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs.

Antibiotic use to prevent diarrhoea could be cut by 60% in India, Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil simply by improving people’s access to water and sanitation, and improving hygiene behaviours. Disease outbreaks are harder to control when sanitation is poor and there is no clean water.

Yet progress on delivering water, sanitation and hygiene is too slow, and not sufficiently threaded throughout the efforts to tackle this looming antibiotic crisis. World decision-makers must acknowledge the pivotal role that water, sanitation and hygiene play in preventing infection and reducing the spread of resistant pathogens, before the next global health crisis hits. Investment in all three elements of water, sanitation and hygiene must be prioritised, and coordinated with other efforts to address the rise of antimicrobial resistance, globally, nationally and locally.

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Never have those words been more true and more urgent.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

Your report makes a strong case for concern about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But it ignores the elephant in the room – or rather, the pig and the chicken. The developed world still uses a lot more antibiotics than developing countries, and the vast majority of these are fed to animals on factory farms. Though not taking antibiotics for a sore throat can help extend the usefulness of current antibiotics, changing the way we produce meat is much more important.

Plant-based meat from new cutting-edge companies like Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains is both delicious and sustainable, and doesn’t require any antibiotics. And clean meat – actual animal meat grown outside of the animal, with no antibiotics necessary – is rapidly approaching price competitiveness, thanks to the efforts of companies like Memphis Meats.

Moving quickly to plant-based and clean meat is the best thing we can do to avoid pandemics of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Matt Ball
The Good Food Institute

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Ways to step up the fight against global antimicrobial resistance | Letters

With drug-resistant infections now causing the deaths of half a million people a year, access to clean water and decent sanitation has never been more vital in the race to prevent a global antimicrobial resistance catastrophe. As Dame Sally Davies poignantly highlighted in your report (Experts issue new warning on overuse of antibiotics, 27 March), “the importance of clean water, sanitation and vaccination must not be forgotten to avoid infections occurring in the first place”. This point, alongside the critical role of hygiene, is absolutely key.

This is already a global health emergency, with 844 million people lacking access to clean water and 2.3 billion without safe, private toilets. In developing nations almost 40% of healthcare facilities do not have a water supply, 19% do not provide adequate sanitation and 35% do not have soap and water to sustain good hygiene practices. Without these basics in place, infection prevention and control in healthcare settings becomes almost impossible. So it is no surprise that hospital-acquired infections are the third major driver of antimicrobial resistance globally.

Diarrhoea, pneumonia and cholera are often preventable through basic improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. When they strike, the pathogens that cause these infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, and are becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs.

Antibiotic use to prevent diarrhoea could be cut by 60% in India, Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil simply by improving people’s access to water and sanitation, and improving hygiene behaviours. Disease outbreaks are harder to control when sanitation is poor and there is no clean water.

Yet progress on delivering water, sanitation and hygiene is too slow, and not sufficiently threaded throughout the efforts to tackle this looming antibiotic crisis. World decision-makers must acknowledge the pivotal role that water, sanitation and hygiene play in preventing infection and reducing the spread of resistant pathogens, before the next global health crisis hits. Investment in all three elements of water, sanitation and hygiene must be prioritised, and coordinated with other efforts to address the rise of antimicrobial resistance, globally, nationally and locally.

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Never have those words been more true and more urgent.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

Your report makes a strong case for concern about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But it ignores the elephant in the room – or rather, the pig and the chicken. The developed world still uses a lot more antibiotics than developing countries, and the vast majority of these are fed to animals on factory farms. Though not taking antibiotics for a sore throat can help extend the usefulness of current antibiotics, changing the way we produce meat is much more important.

Plant-based meat from new cutting-edge companies like Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains is both delicious and sustainable, and doesn’t require any antibiotics. And clean meat – actual animal meat grown outside of the animal, with no antibiotics necessary – is rapidly approaching price competitiveness, thanks to the efforts of companies like Memphis Meats.

Moving quickly to plant-based and clean meat is the best thing we can do to avoid pandemics of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Matt Ball
The Good Food Institute

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Ways to step up the fight against global antimicrobial resistance | Letters

With drug-resistant infections now causing the deaths of half a million people a year, access to clean water and decent sanitation has never been more vital in the race to prevent a global antimicrobial resistance catastrophe. As Dame Sally Davies poignantly highlighted in your report (Experts issue new warning on overuse of antibiotics, 27 March), “the importance of clean water, sanitation and vaccination must not be forgotten to avoid infections occurring in the first place”. This point, alongside the critical role of hygiene, is absolutely key.

This is already a global health emergency, with 844 million people lacking access to clean water and 2.3 billion without safe, private toilets. In developing nations almost 40% of healthcare facilities do not have a water supply, 19% do not provide adequate sanitation and 35% do not have soap and water to sustain good hygiene practices. Without these basics in place, infection prevention and control in healthcare settings becomes almost impossible. So it is no surprise that hospital-acquired infections are the third major driver of antimicrobial resistance globally.

Diarrhoea, pneumonia and cholera are often preventable through basic improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene. When they strike, the pathogens that cause these infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, and are becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs.

Antibiotic use to prevent diarrhoea could be cut by 60% in India, Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil simply by improving people’s access to water and sanitation, and improving hygiene behaviours. Disease outbreaks are harder to control when sanitation is poor and there is no clean water.

Yet progress on delivering water, sanitation and hygiene is too slow, and not sufficiently threaded throughout the efforts to tackle this looming antibiotic crisis. World decision-makers must acknowledge the pivotal role that water, sanitation and hygiene play in preventing infection and reducing the spread of resistant pathogens, before the next global health crisis hits. Investment in all three elements of water, sanitation and hygiene must be prioritised, and coordinated with other efforts to address the rise of antimicrobial resistance, globally, nationally and locally.

As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. Never have those words been more true and more urgent.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

Your report makes a strong case for concern about the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But it ignores the elephant in the room – or rather, the pig and the chicken. The developed world still uses a lot more antibiotics than developing countries, and the vast majority of these are fed to animals on factory farms. Though not taking antibiotics for a sore throat can help extend the usefulness of current antibiotics, changing the way we produce meat is much more important.

Plant-based meat from new cutting-edge companies like Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains is both delicious and sustainable, and doesn’t require any antibiotics. And clean meat – actual animal meat grown outside of the animal, with no antibiotics necessary – is rapidly approaching price competitiveness, thanks to the efforts of companies like Memphis Meats.

Moving quickly to plant-based and clean meat is the best thing we can do to avoid pandemics of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Matt Ball
The Good Food Institute

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters