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When Antibiotics Fail

The Expert Panel on the Potential Socio-Economic Impacts of Antimicrobial Resistance in Canada

“The ability of microbes to resist antimicrobials (antimicrobial resistance, AMR) is a serious existential threat to millions, and is potentially responsible for the loss of hundreds of millions of lives globally over the next few decades. As antimicrobial use continues, resistance levels continue to rise (currently about 26% to first line antimicrobials in Canada and potentially increasing significantly). Resistant organisms cause a major problem to the healthcare system, and also agriculture and other activities such as tourism. One problem is that AMR does not respect borders — antimicrobial use in one country today leads to AMR in another country tomorrow. Increasing AMR is predicted to cause significant disruptions to society, although determining the extent of these problems is difficult. If actions are not taken to combat the increase of AMR, Canada will be greatly changed within a few decades. The economy will shrink, the healthcare system will be less sustainable, and social inequality will further increase. It is clear that AMR needs not only to be seen as a scientific and healthcare issue, but also as an economic and security threat. It is an insidious problem that increasingly permeates all aspects of our society.”

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© 2019 Council of Canadian Academies