Antimicrobial use and resistance

Background

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microbes to withstand the effects of antimicrobials. Antimicrobials are the chemical agents used to suppress or kill microbes.

These microbes include:

  • bacteria
  • viruses
  • fungi
  • parasites

When using antimicrobials there's a risk of resistant microbes emerging and this complicates the treatment of patients with infections.

The ability for bacteria to evolve and survive exposure to medicines that would normally kill them is a phenomenon and it's the misuse of antimicrobials in humans and animals that sustains and increases resistance to these medicines. AMR is a threat to public health and patient safety due to:

  • higher healthcare costs
  • increased length of stay in hospitals
  • treatment failures
  • increased mortality

Antimicrobial use and spread of infection in humans, animals and the environment contribute to the development of resistant infections.

A 'One Health' approach tackles AMR and its causes across all areas. The aim of 'One Health' is to improve health and well-being through the prevention of risks and the mitigation of effects of crises that originate at the interface between humans, animals and their various environments.

For that purpose:

  • to promote a multi (cross) sectoral and collaborative approach
  • to promote a ‘whole of society’ approach to health hazards, as a systemic change of perspective in the management of risk