Antibiotics are medicine’s wonder drugs and the mainstay of modern healthcare.  In their presence we can save lives, extend life expectancies, improve the quality of life and support commonplace and progressive health therapies such as chemotherapy for cancer, heart transplants and joint replacement therapies.  Their success is also their downfall as increased use has led to an increase in antibiotic resistance (AMR) that threatens the effectiveness of antibiotics.

AMR is an unavoidable and inevitable consequence of antibiotic use that has been accelerated by the global use, overuse and misuse of antibiotics over the decades. According to the recently published AMR review, it will be directly responsible for 10 million deaths annually by 2050 as the emergence of multi-drug resistant infections, for which there are few or no effective antibiotic cures, increases.

The magnitude of the crisis has not gone unnoticed.  On 29 September 2016 the United Nations (UN) issued a declaration calling for action - only the fourth time in its 70 year history that a health issue has been addressed.  AMR now sits alongside HIV and Ebola for the gravity of the threat it poses to humankind.  The declaration offers an unparalleled opportunity for change. The solution is multi-faceted but at its heart lays education about the causes and actions to ensure antibiotics are used responsibly, effectively and only when absolutely needed.  Far more challenging is how we deliver and implement the solutions globally, taking account of cultural, geographical, structural and economic differences.

This campaign offers an opportunity to demonstrate to all the value of adopting a “One Health Approach” to AMR, defined as the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines – working locally, nationally, and globally – to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment and recognizing that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment.

Through concerted efforts across all sectors, we can bring about the changes needed to stem AMR and preserve effective antibiotics for use now and in the future.