Communication: A European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details (2017) 339 final (29.6.17)
Publication Date 29/06/2017
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Antimicrobials include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiprotozoals. They are active substances of synthetic or natural origin which kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Used in every-day medicine, they are vital to preventing and treating infections in humans and animals.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms, such as bacteria, to become increasingly resistant to an antimicrobial to which they were previously susceptible. AMR is a consequence of natural selection and genetic mutation. Such mutation is then passed on conferring resistance. This natural selection process is exacerbated by human factors such as inappropriate use of antimicrobials in human and veterinary medicine, poor hygiene conditions and practices in healthcare settings or in the food chain facilitating the transmission of resistant microorganisms. Over time, this makes antimicrobials less effective and ultimately useless.

AMR is a serious challenge, in the EU and globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), AMR has already reached alarming levels in many parts of the world. High levels of AMR in bacteria linked to numerous common infections have been observed in all WHO regions. Resistance to antivirals, such as those used to treat HIV, is also increasing.

AMR already presents a serious social and economic burden. It is estimated to be responsible for 25,000 deaths per year in the EU alone and 700,000 deaths per year globally. Inaction is projected to cause millions of deaths globally: it has been estimated that AMR might cause more deaths than cancer by 2050.

Apart from the human suffering caused by that development, AMR also pushes up the cost of treatment and diminishes productivity due to illness. In the EU it is estimated that AMR costs €1.5 billion annually in healthcare costs and productivity losses. The World Bank has warned that, by 2050, drug-resistant infections could cause global economic damage on a par with the 2008 financial crisis. AMR also threatens the achievement of several of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, particularly the targets for good health and well-being.

Effective action against the rise of AMR will mitigate its negative impact on the economy and can therefore be considered a contribution to economic growth, to sustainable healthcare budgets by reducing healthcare costs and to a productive and healthy population.

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Related Links
ESO: Background information: Launch of Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
EUR-Lex: SWD(2017)240: Synopsis report

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