Gov launches five-year plan to fight antimicrobial resistance
A variety of pills on a pink background.

The government has launched a new National Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance in an attempt to protect people (and animals) from the risk of drug-resistant infections.

The plan will commit the UK to reducing its use of antimicrobials, including antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals, in humans and animals. It also commits to strengthening surveillance of drug-resistant infections before they emerge and incentivising industry to develop the next generation of treatments.

The plan is the second of a series of five-year National Action Plans and will run from 2024 to 2029. 

The plan has nine strategic outcomes under four themes: reducing the need for and unintentional exposure to antimicrobials; optimising the sue of antimicrobials, investing in innovation, supply and access; and being a good global partner.

Health minister Maria Caulfield said: "Almost 8,000 people in the UK die from drug resistant infections every year.  If this continues to spread, common infections and injuries that were once easily treatable become harder, and in some cases impossible, to treat.    

"Our five-year action plan outlines our commitment to leading the way in tackling AMR, including through expanding our world-first subscription model to accelerate research into new treatments.

"In a world recovering from the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, international collaboration and preparedness for global health challenges have taken on an unprecedented level of importance."

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: "Antibiotics are one of the most powerful tools we have against infection. Resistance to these drugs therefore poses a significant threat to the lives of many people in the UK and around the world.

"AMR is not just a matter for clinicians – it is important to work across sectors to help preserve these vital medicines to minimise the impact of AMR."