Global attention towards antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the threat it presents to current and future human health has soared in the last 2 years (1, 2). A clear marker of this awakening is the presence of AMR as a priority topic at the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in late September 2016. This high-level forum is the first to be held in the post-Millennium Development Goal (MDG) era, and its agenda reflects the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The challenge of AMR is directly relevant to Goal 3 ‘Good health and well-being’, but can also be related to Goal 12 ‘Responsible consumption and production’ and Goal 6 ‘Clean water and sanitation’. The prominence of AMR at the 71st UNGA is thus not surprising. What is surprising is the comparative neglect of threats from AMR to women and children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and, specifically, for the crucial environment of maternity units. Given the UN Secretary General's much repeated call to ‘leave no one behind’ in pursuit of sustainable development by 2030 (3), this neglect is unacceptable. In our article, we call for joined-up thinking and working to address the current lack of attention, evidence, and action on the threat of AMR for maternity units. The benefits of addressing this would be felt widely, but particularly by the women who become pregnant and the newborn babies potentially at risk – estimated, respectively, as 210 million and 140 million in 2015 (4).
No specific funding was received for this work. We acknowledge helpful feedback on the draft version from Prof Peter Byass and thank the peer reviewers for their constructive suggestions. Views expressed by the authors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of their employing organisations.