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Health chiefs welcome five-year plan to combat antibiotic resistant infections

13 May 2024 3 minute read
Antibiotic drugs. Photo by theglobalpanorama is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Public health experts in Wales have welcomed the publication of a new five-year National Action Plan to combat antibiotic resistant infections.

Thousands of people in the UK die from drug-resistant infections each year and there is increasing concern that if antimicrobial resistance (AMR) remains unchecked then common infections and injuries will become harder, or impossible, to treat.


In 2019, there were an estimated 7,600 deaths directly from infections resistant to antibiotics (similar to the number of deaths in the UK due to stomach cancer), as well as 35,200 deaths as an indirect result of infections resistant to antibiotics.

Even if the patient survives, resistance makes infections far more serious and difficult to treat successfully.

But simple steps to prevent infections and avoid the inappropriate use of antibiotics in humans and animals can help prevent some of these deaths.

Wales’ Chief Medical and Veterinary Officers have said everyone must play their part in preventing one of the world’s biggest killers as they launch the next stage of a 20-year plan to reduce resistance to antibiotics.


The new plan commits the UK to reducing the need for, and optimising the use of, antimicrobials – such as antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals – in humans and animals, strengthen surveillance of drug resistant infections before they emerge and to incentivise research to develop the next generation of treatments.

In 2019, the UK’s devolved governments published a 20-year vision to contain, control and mitigate antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by 2040.

Despite the Covid pandemic, the UK has managed to reduce human exposure to antimicrobials by more than 8% since 2014 and reduced the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals by 59% between 2014 and 2022. In 2023, Wales prescribed 15% fewer antibiotics in general practice than 2014.

Robin Howe, Consultant Microbiologist for Public Health Wales, said: “Public Health Wales welcomes the launch of this next stage of a 20-year plan to reduce resistance to antibiotics by 2040.

“We can all play a role in helping to prevent anti-microbial resistance. It is important we use antibiotics exactly as directed by a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

“No-one should save antibiotics for later or share them with family, friends or pets. If you have unused antibiotics, you should return them to your local pharmacy. Throwing them in the bin or flushing them down the toilet leads to the contamination of rivers threatening human and animal health.”

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