ICN President calls for UN members to make Universal Health Coverage a central pillar in tackling antimicrobial resistance

22 May 2024
PR 24

In a powerful address at the United Nations Multi-stakeholder Hearing on Antimicrobial Resistance on 15 May, Dr Pamela Cipriano, President of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and Co-Chair of the Universal Health Coverage 2030 Steering Committee (UHC2030), urged global leaders to make universal health coverage a central pillar in the response to the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Dr Cipriano described how AMR exacerbates existing health and societal inequities, impedes healthcare delivery and access, and compromises the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Thus, she said, “AMR cannot be addressed in isolation from universal health coverage”.

Highlighting the disproportionate impact of AMR on vulnerable populations, Dr Cipriano called on UN member states to invest in equitable and resilient health systems that give all people access to preventative, diagnostic, and curative infection care delivered by well-trained, well-supported health professionals. She also emphasised the importance of primary health care in providing education around the inappropriate use of antimicrobials, noting “the more our public understand these issues, the more they become champions as well”.

Dr Cipriano advocated for a comprehensive, whole of society approach grounded in the One Health framework, recognising the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health issues. “We want member states to focus on uniting the human, animal, agricultural and plant sectors through targeted country actions for UHC”, she stated. These actions include improved hygiene and sanitation, equitable access to antimicrobial medications, minimising antibiotic use to essential indications, and investing in national sustainability plans that prioritise antimicrobial stewardship and cross-sector infection prevention and control.

Dr Cipriano concluded her remarks by urging member states to seize the opportunity presented by the UN high-level meeting this September to make a firm commitment to universal health coverage as part of AMR efforts. “This year's high-level meeting is a unique chance to agree on actionable steps for addressing one of the biggest health threats of our time,” she said. “It’s time not only to stop preventable AMR-related deaths but also to stop the decline in progress on the SDGs and erosion of the advances of life-saving medicines and healthcare.”

Watch the UN high-level meeting on AMR via UN TV here


  • The UN General Assembly has convened its second high-level meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance in September 2024. The Multi-stakeholder Hearing on Antimicrobial Resistance, held on 15 May 2024, provided an opportunity for key stakeholders to contribute to the on-going preparatory process and priorities for this high-level meeting.
  • UHC2030 is the movement to build stronger health systems for universal health coverage (UHC). With its Secretariat provided by the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the OECD, it provides a global platform for health advocates to work together to achieve UHC by mobilising political commitment, demanding and tracking accountability, and promoting collective action for health systems.
  • ICN’s Position Statement on Antimicrobial Resistance calls for comprehensive, coordinated and sustained efforts in reducing global AMR and highlights the central role of the nursing profession in antimicrobial stewardship and shaping education, prevention, and policy efforts.