Health and Food Safety

Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms to resist antimicrobial treatments, especially antibiotics. AMR is a natural phenomenon but an accumulation of factors, including excessive and inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines on humans and animals and poor hygiene or infection control practices, transformed AMR into a serious threat to public health worldwide.

AMR not only has a direct impact on human and animal health - due to the failure in the treatment of infectious diseases - but also carries a heavy economic cost.

AMR is already responsible for an estimated 25,000 deaths per year in the EU. Current worldwide mortality from AMR is estimated at 700,000 deaths per year. Inaction is projected to cause yearly millions of deaths globally and by 2050 AMR has the potential to become a more common cause of death than cancer.

It also has wide impacts on the economy, with higher costs of treatments and economic losses due to reduced productivity caused by sickness. In the EU alone it is estimated that AMR annually costs EUR 1.5 billion in healthcare costs and productivity losses. The World Bank warns that, by 2050, drug-resistant infections could cause global economic damage on a par with the 2008 financial crisis.

AMR spreads through global tourism, transfer of patients between healthcare facilities within and from outside the EU, and through trade in food and animals.

It is an important global economic and a societal challenge that can't be tackled by countries or public administrations alone. Therefore, the problem needs a comprehensive "One Health" approach to it. That means that a holistic, multi-sectorial approach, involving many different sectors (public health, food safety, bio-safety, environment, research and innovation, international cooperation, animal health and welfare as well as non-therapeutic use of antimicrobial substances) is needed to tackle this complex problem.

In June 2016, the Commission published the Eurobarometer results on Antimicrobial Resistance awareness. The main conclusions of this Eurobarometer were that knowledge across the EU remains low and that there is a reported  6% decrease in consumption in the last years.

For more information, please refer to:

Flash Eurobarometer in non-EU countries was also published in November 2016.

For more background information regarding AMR, please refer to the following factsheet: AMR: A major European and Global challenge. Also check the following video on "The EU Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance".

The EU Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance