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The serious threat of AMR and how the PDA is helping in Ukraine

Last week, the PDA hosted a member exclusive event to detail some of its recent work in the Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) field. PDA Policy Officer, Tasnim Khan was joined by Specialist Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) pharmacist, Bee Yean Ng as they discussed the lessons learnt from Ukraine on managing the risk of AMR.

Sat 22nd July 2023 The PDA

What is Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR)?

The World Health Organisation defines AMR as:

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat.

Tasnim, who is also a pharmacist with a hospital background, began the session by outlining the project and how it started with the Medicines to Ukraine campaign. Through the Federation of Employed Pharmacists in Europe (EPhEU), of which PDA Chairman, Mark Koziol is Secretary General, the PDA supported European-wide fundraising efforts to help provide medicines to Ukraine by displaying posters in community pharmacy windows.

Whilst delivering the first consignment of medicines directly to Ukrainian hospitals, Mark was able to see that those who lived in Ukraine faced a completely different reality of barbed wire, steel anti-tank constructions, and roadblocks everywhere (read more about Mark’s journey here).

The hospitals also faced particular difficulties with receiving large quantities of unusable medicines and medical equipment. They were receiving medicines that other countries no longer needed or were assumed as being necessary, as opposed to items they had requested to support specific challenges. This is where the merit of using a pull model as opposed to a push model was identified. It was in the process of establishing this model that the clinicians began to open up to Mark about the AMR issues they faced in their hospitals.

Once Mark was back in the UK, articles were published about his journey, and the issues around AMR were picked up by colleagues at the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC). The PDA and BSAC then began to work in partnership to address and assist in tackling the AMR issues in Ukraine. The team collectively decided to embark on fact-finding prior to mapping out potential solutions. Thereafter, plans were put in place to assemble the right team for an exploratory meeting in Lublin, Poland.

Tasnim spoke about how it was essential to have the right group of multidisciplinary experts attend the fact-finding meeting and therefore, the team consisted of individuals from the British military, the Department of Health, AMR specialist pharmacists, infection prevention specialists, and microbiologists. The team had a productive couple of days where they learnt there was a lot to unpick about the Ukrainian healthcare system itself including how they communicate and what the different job roles entail.

Bee then covered the consequences of AMR, stating that according to recent estimates, in 2019, 1.27 million deaths were directly attributed to drug-resistant infections globally. By 2050, up to 10 million deaths could occur annually which would exceed the number of deaths caused by cancer.

She explained that global pandemics are expected given the increasing movement of people across continents. Health inequalities, a growing elderly population, AMR in the food chain, and climate change, all provide the medium which will lead to the development of new viruses if there is not action.

When looking specifically at the AMR picture in Ukraine, pre-existing issues were exacerbated once the war began, and it was crucial to look at where support could be offered as it is not just Ukraine’s issue.

What next?

The team is continuing to map out strategies, raise awareness of the issue, and engage with various stakeholders to help progress potential solutions. Although this specific project is looking to begin to manage AMR issues in Ukraine, there are upcoming projects from the PDA working alongside other organisations, that aim to address the wider issue of AMR in other countries whilst empowering pharmacists to be at the forefront of change.

Tasnim Khan, PDA Policy Officer said, “Taking what we have learned so far, I am excited to broaden this project beyond Ukraine and be part of laying down the foundations to help other countries that also have experienced some sort of crisis, whether that’s a natural disaster or a war, and where AMR is a significant issue.

It is really important as pharmacists that we have an awareness of what is happening globally with AMR because resistant bugs transcend borders, and it should be a cause of concern for us all. We will soon be speaking more about future projects that are in the pipeline that will support PDA members to be more involved, so keep an eye out for communications if you are interested in getting involved!”

PDA member feedback

PDA members were grateful for the session and the opportunity to discover more about the subject and ask questions of the experts directly involved with the work.

Maxine Flynn, a PDA member and primary care pharmacist who attended said, “It was really inspiring to hear about other opportunities that exist for pharmacists. Community or primary care isn’t everything, I used to feel there was not much else that I could do with my qualification but it’s reassuring to see what other pharmacists are achieving and how recognition of the skills and abilities of our profession is growing. This is another great benefit to my membership of the PDA.”

Another attendee was pharmacist and PDA member, Lucinda Jones, who added, “I really enjoyed the webinar. It was interesting to hear how the subject of Anti-microbial Stewardship can be applied with a collaborative approach between teams on an international scale. It also gave an insight into what roles exist for pharmacists that have completed higher qualifications. I hope the PDA will provide some more webinars to learn about their work.”

Get involved

The PDA plans to run more lunchtime policy presentation sessions. PDA members can request particular topics that they would like to hear about directly from the PDA policy team by emailing

The work of the PDA is informed by the views and the interests of members. There are many ways for PDA members to get involved and share their opinions and experiences. Whether that be through the PDA Reps Networks, PDA Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Networks, Member Voice articles, or by responding to PDA surveys that seek the views of members.

Learn more





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