Antimicrobial Resistance – Overview

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microbes like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change so that drugs that were previously effective against them stop working. While AMR occurs naturally, misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process. CIHR recognizes that AMR is one of the biggest threats to global health, food safety and development today.

AMR is recognized as a global crisis. Currently, 700,000 people die of resistant infections each year. By 2050, this will increase to 10 million lives a year, costing the global economy a cumulative 100 trillion USD. At the World Health Assembly in 2015, a global action plan to tackle AMR was endorsed by all Member States, including Canada. All Member States were urged to have national action plans in place by 2017. In June 2023, the Government of Canada, together with provinces and territories, introduced the Pan-Canadian Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (PCAP) to guide Canada’s AMR preparedness and response over the next five years.

CIHR, in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), is developing a National One Health Research Strategy (NOHRS) as part of the actionable items identified in the PCAP. The NOHRS will help CIHR, AAFC and other multidisciplinary research teams meet the challenges we face on this planet.

Because AMR in humans is part of a much larger issue tied to animal health as well as environmental issues, AMR research initiatives focusing on the “One-Health” approach, which aims to strengthen cooperation between human health, animal health, and agri-food sectors as well as environmental considerations, continue to be a priority.

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