Antibiotics have played a major role in the control of infectious diseases globally. The control of these diseases has helped improve the health and socio-economic status of people around the world. However, various strains of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites have developed resistance to existing antimicrobials. This resistance makes treatment progressively less effective and efficient, leading to higher mortality and morbidity and higher treatment cost. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) affects humans, livestock, aquaculture, agriculture, and the environment. In 2016, it was estimated that 700,000 deaths occur per year due to AMR, and if appropriate actions are not taken to control it, this figure will reach 10,000,000 per year by 2050. Most AMR cases will occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), where poverty is exacerbated by infectious diseases and weak health systems. Within these health systems, antimicrobials are often prescribed based on imprecise diagnostic techniques and patient request, leading to imprudent use, compounded by the widespread presence of counterfeit medication.
To tackle AMR at a global level, the World Health Organization (WHO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) formed a tripartite collaboration and developed the Global Action Plan on AMR (GAP). The GAP, ratified at the 68th World Health Assembly in 2015, listed five strategic objectives:
- Improve awareness and understanding of AMR through effective communication, education, and training.
- Strengthen the knowledge and evidence base through surveillance and research.
- Reduce the incidence of infection through effective sanitation, hygiene, and infection prevention measures.
- Optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines in human and animal health.
- Develop the economic case for sustainable investment that takes account of the needs of all countries, and increase investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines, and other interventions.