September 5, 2019 by Becky Brown


Next week I will be attending a workshop in Nairobi aimed at understanding the environmental and non-therapeutic health risks of increasing access to medicines in low- and middle-income countries. The meeting, which has been facilitated by AstraZeneca and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), will bring together scientists from academia, industry, regulators and non-governmental organisations in order to discuss the best ways to manage access to healthcare while also protecting the environment.

Some general themes for discussion will include:

  • Consideration of how differences in for example, culture, medical practices and disease prevalence might affect environmental exposure to pharmaceuticals and look at the evidence for this based on existing measured environmental concentration data;
  • Discussion of whether risk assessment frameworks for pharmaceuticals developed based on patient use in developed countries with high levels of sewage connectivity can be extrapolated to developing countries with different exposure and water use patterns;
  • A specific focus on the risks posed by antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance;
  • Look at learning from developed countries with respect to awareness, policy, regulation and enforcement; and
  • Identification of opportunities for risk management and mitigation options which can readily be implemented in developing countries in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.

I am really looking forward to being involved in progressing the science in this area and am confident that the meeting will result in an action plan to help ensure that access to medicines in developing countries is managed in an environmentally sustainable manner.

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Environmental risk assessment of antibiotics