Antimicrobial resistance: a silent pandemic?

The future of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) depends on what we do today. Better diagnostics, infection prevention, and surveillance are vital factors in the fight against AMR, argues Greg Quinn.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a complicated and multi-sectorial problem which requires urgent action to address. Recently, there has been an outbreak of Group A streptococcus in the UK, showcasing the importance of education and stewardship in the face of AMR and sepsis to protect the lives of children. We’ve come a long way within Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) over the last 20 years, but we still have a long way to go to help protect continued delivery of care for generations to come

Looking ahead to the ‘silent’ pandemic of AMR, it’s important for all stakeholders, including healthcare leaders, industry, and governments to work together and act now to mitigate another global health crisis. Of equal importance is engagement with younger generations on which effective actions can help tackle AMR. As with climate change, public support and behaviour change is vital. The World Health Organization (WHO) cites AMR as one of the top 10 threats to global health.1 Already at least 700,000 people die annually from drug-resistant diseases - this is not silent and is not a problem of the future.2

It is estimated that 63.5% of cases of infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria are healthcare associated.3 Perhaps not surprisingly, up to 50% of all antibiotics prescribed in European hospitals are deemed inappropriate or unnecessary.4 Resistant infections were found to increase excess length of stay (LOS) by 4.9-9.3 days.5 Antimicrobial resistant infections in hospitals can be exacerbated by insufficient or ineffective processes, tools, communication, and coordination.

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