Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a real and immediate global threat.

The damaging effects caused by resistant pathogens are already responsible for an estimated 700,000 deaths per year globally, and future projections of the impact of unresolved AMR surpass the projected number of deaths caused by cancer by 2050. As AMR also could have a grave impact on the global economy, it potentially could pose a high direct and indirect cost to society.

Deaths attributable to AMR per year by 2050, if no action is taken: More than 10 million / Estimated economic impact: $100 trillion
In the future, lack of effective antibiotics could make routine medical interventions extremely dangerous or even impossible.
For these reasons, AMR must be regarded as a global, regional, and national priority for health organizations and governments, to be addressed with the utmost urgency on a global scale.

WHO and United Nations Initiatives to Tackle AMR

WHO Global Action Plan

  • Global cooperation spearheaded by World Health Assembly
  • Global Action Plan setting out five strategic objectives
  1. 1
    Improving awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance
  2. 2
    Strengthening the knowledge and evidence base through surveillance and research
  3. 3
    Reducing the incidence of infection through effective sanitation, hygiene and infection prevention measures
  4. 4
    Optimizing the use of antimicrobial agents in human and animal health
  5. 5
    Developing an economic case for sustainable investment

United Nations High-Level Meeting (September 2016)

  • World leaders signaled an unprecedented level of attention to curb the spread of multidrug-resistant infections.
  • Countries reaffirmed their commitment to develop national action plans on AMR.
  • Leaders recognized the need for stronger systems to monitor drug-resistant infections and the volume of antimicrobials used in humans, animals and crops, as well as increased international cooperation and funding.
  • Leaders also called for new incentives for investment in research and development of new, effective and affordable medicines, rapid diagnostic tests, and other important therapies to replace those that are losing their power.

WHO List of Antibiotic-Resistant “Priority Pathogens”

On February 27, 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) published its first-ever list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens,” a catalog of 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health. Stating that “Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options,” the WHO stressed the need to develop new antibiotics. The 12 pathogens on the list are divided into three categories according to the urgency of need for new antibiotics, with carbapenem-resistant bacteria slotting into the critical category where the need for new antibiotics is considered particularly urgent.

Critical Priority

Acinetobacter baumannii carbapenem-resistant
Pseudomonas aeruginosa carbapenem-resistant
Enterobacteriaceae carbapenem-resistant

High Priority

Enterococcus faecium vancomycin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus



Helicobacter pylori clarithromycin-resistant
Campylobacter fluoroquinolone-resistant
Salmonella species fluoroquinolone-resistant
Neisseria gonorrhoeae



Medium Priority

Streptococcus pneumoniae Streptococcus pneumoniae
Haemophilus influenza ampicillin-resistant
Shigella species fluoroquinolone-resistant