Antimicrobial resistance – or AMR - is a major global health challenge. The ability of microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, to develop resistance to antibiotics and antivirals threatens many of the gains made in global health over recent decades.Status: Ongoing
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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is defined as the resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial treatment to which it was previously sensitive.
Bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites can all develop AMR, making existing antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral and antiparasitic drugs (collectively known as ‘antimicrobials’) ineffective. Although AMR occurs naturally over time, the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in healthcare and agriculture accelerates the development of AMR.
As well as impacting our ability to treat common infections, the increasing incidence of AMR threatens to make even routine major surgeries and other medical practices, including chemotherapy, a serious risk.
In recent years, AMR has been recognised as a serious global threat, and one of the most critical health challenges of our time:
- Each year, at least 700,000 people die worldwide due to antimicrobial-resistant infections. In the UK, 12,000 people are thought to die annually due to antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
- If no action is taken, it has been predicted that by 2050 the number of deaths related to AMR will increase to 10 million people a year globally.
Find out more about AMR and the innovations required to tackle this critical global health challenge by reading our recent blog on expanding the antimicrobial toolkit.
In October 2017, the Academy announced a pledge from The Yusuf and Farida Hamied Foundation for a scheme to build stronger research links between the UK and India to jointly address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
This pledge from the Hamied Foundation supports a five-year programme of work on AMR which aims to strengthen ties between the UK and India, using comparisons between the two countries and the sharing of experience to open up opportunities for mutual learning, as well as for the development of new research collaborations drawing on the strengths of the science bases in each country.
The Academy is grateful to the chair, Professor David Heymann CBE FMedSci, and the steering committee members support and input on the programme.
In spring 2024, the Academy will host a second major scientific meeting on AMR in India, supported by the Hamied Foundation. Visit the dedicated webpage for more information.
On 5 July 2021, the Royal Society and the Academy’s FORUM hosted an online international symposium, ‘Advances in antimicrobial innovation’ supported by AstraZeneca. The event report can be found here, with a summary of the proceedings in this blog.
On 15 December 2021, the Academy's FORUM hosted a joint virtual workshop with the Department of Health and Social Care and the National Institute for Health and Care Research: ‘Antimicrobial resistance research: learning lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic’. The workshop report can be found here.
In February 2019, the Academy hosted a major scientific meeting on AMR in London, bringing together experts from the UK and India to explore the research and policy actions that have been taken in the UK and India to address AMR, and to identify areas for continued or future research. Visit the dedicated webpage for more information.
In October 2013, the Academy provided written evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee’s inquiry on AMR. This included a request for feedback on the Department of Health’s UK Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013 to 2018. Some of the Academy’s Fellows also gave oral evidence to the committee.
In November 2013, the Academy endorsed the joint statement ‘Antimicrobial Resistance: A Call for Action’ published by the InterAcademy Panel (IAP) and the InterAcademy Medical Panel (IAMP). The statement, which makes recommendations on addressing antimicrobial resistance internationally, was endorsed by 45 national Academies including the Academy of Medical Sciences.