Antimicrobial therapy transformed medical practice from a merely diagnosis-focused approach 80 years ago to a treatment-focused approach, saving millions of lives in the years to follow. Today, numerous medical advances made possible by effective antibiotics are being threatened by the relentlessly rising rates of bacteria resistant to all currently available antibiotics. This phenomenon is a consequence of antibiotic misuse, which exerts undue selective pressure on micro-organisms, combined with defective infection control practices that accelerate their spread. Its impact on societies worldwide is immense, resulting in loss of human life and money. An alarming pattern of resistance involving multidrug-resistant and sometimes pandrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria is currently emerging. In response to the global public health threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a number of national and international actions and initiatives have been developed in recent years to address this issue. Although the optimally effective and cost-effective strategy to reduce AMR is not known, a multifaceted approach is most likely to be successful. It should include actions aiming at optimising antibiotic use, strengthening surveillance and infection control, and improving healthcare worker and public education with regard to antibiotics. Research efforts to bring new effective antibiotics to patients need to be fostered in order to negate the consequences of the current lack of antimicrobial therapy options. A holistic view of AMR as well as intersectoral collaboration between human and veterinary medicine is required to best address the problem.
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