Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat. Researchers estimated that AMR in bacteria caused an estimated 1.27 million deaths in 2019.
A global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines was endorsed at the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly in May 2015. One of the key objectives of the plan is to improve awareness and understanding of AMR through effective communication, education and training.
Drug-resistant microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites can
spread between and within animal, human, plant populations, and migrate through
the environment. Therefore, addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) requires multisectoral interventions known as the One Health approach. This holistic approach
recognizes that animal, human, plant and environmental health are inextricably
intertwined and interdependent.
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is a global campaign that is celebrated annually to improve awareness and understanding of AMR and encourage best practices among the public, One Health stakeholders and policymakers, who all play a critical role in reducing the further emergence and spread of AMR.
This year, the theme of WAAW is “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together.” It calls on all sectors to encourage the prudent use of antimicrobials and to strengthen preventive measures addressing AMR, working together collaboratively through a One Health approach.
Antimicrobials are agents used to prevent, control and treat infectious diseases in humans, animals and plants, but they are becoming increasingly ineffective.
AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial agents. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents become ineffective and infections become difficult or impossible to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
AMR is happening here and now. It is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today.
Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants are accelerating the development and spread of AMR worldwide.
The challenges of AMR are complex and multifaceted, but they are not insurmountable. A One Health response to AMR will help save millions of lives, preserve antimicrobials for generations and secure the future from drug-resistant pathogens.
To curb AMR effectively, all sectors must use antimicrobials prudently and adopt other
preventive measures. The following actions can help reduce the need for antimicrobials and minimize the emergence of AMR:
- strengthen infection prevention and control in health facilities, farms and food industry premises;
- ensure access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and vaccines;
- implement best practices in food and agricultural production; and
- minimize pollution and ensure proper waste and sanitation management.
The overall slogan for raising awareness on AMR during WAAW remains the same as in previous years – Antimicrobials: Handle with care.
Link to World Antimicrobial Awareness Week site:
Link to WHO fact sheet on Antimicrobial Resistance: