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Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses one of the most important risks to our health today. Resistance occurs when bacteria, fungi and other germs develop the ability to stop the drugs (such as antibiotics) designed to kill them. That means the bacteria that are not killed continue to grow.

About antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has the potential to affect people at any stage of life, as well as the healthcare, veterinary, and agriculture industries. This makes it one of the world’s most urgent public health problems.

Bacteria and fungi do not have to be resistant to every antimicrobial to be dangerous. Resistance to even one antimicrobial can cause serious problems. For example:

  • Antibiotic-resistant infections that require the use of second- and third-line treatments can harm patients by causing serious side effects, such as organ failure, and prolong care and recovery, sometimes for months
  • Many medical advances are dependent on the ability to fight infections using antibiotics, including joint replacements, organ transplants, cancer therapy, and the treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • In some cases, these infections have no treatment options

If antibiotics lose their effectiveness, then we lose the ability to treat infections and control these public health threats.

What causes resistance?

Resistance to antimicrobials occurs naturally when bacteria change to protect themselves from these medicines. However, increases in antimicrobial resistance are driven by a combination of exposure of bacteria to antibiotics, and the spread of those bacteria and their resistance mechanisms.

To learn more you can watch our videos and take a look at some factsheets on antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance.

5 things you need to know about AMR

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