Man taking medicines off the shelf

Luuk Rombouts/Ideo

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Antimicrobial resistance: it’s time for global action

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of our greatest public health threats. We need collective, evidence-based action to control the escalating burden of drug-resistant infections.


Luuk Rombouts/Ideo

Licence: All Rights Reserved

What is antimicrobial resistance – and why is it a problem? 

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, fungi or viruses change in a way that makes the drugs used to treat them ineffective.

These drug-resistant infections are much harder – if not impossible – to treat and cure. They cause over a million deaths every year, and projections suggest this will increase significantly over the next few decades. By 2030, the health impacts of AMR could lead to a US $3.4 trillion annual shortfall in global GDP [PDF 3.8MB].

However, the effects are not experienced equally. Low- and middle-income countries have the highest burden of drug-resistant infections.

For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 1 in 1,000 deaths are already associated with bacterial antimicrobial resistance, compared to half as many in high-income countries.

2024 is a critical year to accelerate action on antimicrobial resistance 

While there has been some progress in tackling AMR in recent years, it isn’t enough. The global response remains too weak and fragmented to manage the growing burden of disease.

We need collective action on AMR to deliver a more ambitious and globally coherent approach. We call on global leaders to:

  1. set a bold, unifying goal for a reduction in the global burden of AMR
  2. create a panel for scientific evidence and action on AMR
  3. establish a mechanism to regularly review progress and maintain momentum

“What gets measured gets managed – this is what we have been lacking so far for AMR. With appropriate mechanisms in place, the world can more effectively tackle the AMR crisis and protect those most vulnerable.”

Jeremy Knox

Head of Policy, Infectious Disease


Connect with Jeremy:

Key opportunities to renew political action on AMR

  1. 27 May – 1 June 2024

    World Health Assembly

    Member States will convene to agree a resolution on antimicrobial resistance. This is the first time it has been on the agenda since 2019.

  2. 26 September 2024

    UN General Assembly

    The second-ever High-Level Meeting on AMR will agree on a political declaration that could redefine the future global response.

  3. 15 – 16 November 2024

    Fourth Global High-level Ministerial Conference on AMR

    National leaders can capitalise on the growing momentum and support the follow-up of the Political Declaration at this conference in Saudi Arabia.

Our work on antimicrobial resistance 

We support science to tackle the biggest barriers to controlling infectious disease in the most affected communities. This includes research to better understand the global burden of AMR and accelerate the development of new interventions.

  • We’re funding evidence generation – from our analysis of the antimicrobial resistance landscape to the Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance project, which provides the first comprehensive estimate of AMR burden in 204 countries and territories.
  • Since 2016, we have supported CARB-X, a global non-profit partnership dedicated to supporting early-stage antibiotics, diagnostics and vaccines research and development to address the rising threat of drug-resistant bacteria.
  • We're also working with the communities most affected by AMR, with projects like ABACUS, which explored the case for a standardised physical appearance of antibiotics to improve the confusion between medicine suppliers and community members. 

What can we do to stop suberbugs?

Hear from Dr. Anand Anandkumar, co-founder of Bugworks. The team at Bugworks (an organisation part funded by Wellcome) are one of a handful of groups worldwide working on next-generation broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Contact us 

  • Jeremy Knox

    Head of Policy, Infectious Disease


    Connect with Jeremy:

  • Timothy Jinks

    Head of Interventions


    Connect with Timothy:

  • Zoe Molyneux

    Policy Lead


    Connect with Zoe:

  • Janet Midega

    Senior Research Manager, Drug Resistant Infections


  • Rebecca Manaley

    Policy Adviser, Infectious Disease


  • Chibuzor Uchea

    Research Manager, Drug Resistant Infections


  • Antonia Lombardi

    Senior Policy Officer