Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat.

Antimicrobial resistance: a major health issue

In this Royal Society Te Apārangi video, microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles explains the growing health issues regarding antimicrobial resistance and what we can do to address the problem.

A global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines was endorsed at the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly in May 2015. One of the key objectives of the plan is to improve awareness and understanding of AMR through effective communication, education and training.

World AMR Awareness Week (WAAW) is a global campaign that is celebrated annually to improve awareness and understanding of AMR and encourage best practices among the public, One Health stakeholders and policymakers, who all play a critical role in reducing the further emergence and spread of AMR.

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Keep an eye out as more events are added closer to November.

Related content

Any use of antibiotics automatically creates resistance. Learn why it is an issue, the history of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance and what you can do to reduce the risk. The context for learning provides ideas on how to incorporate this wicked problem into authentic cross-curricular learning.

See our new collection Antimicrobial resistance resources – full of content to support teaching and learning about AMR. It is ready for you to use and customise as you choose.

The Infection Inspection citizen science project is using E. coli to help develop a faster test for antibiotic resistance. They need your observation skills to help identify bacteria that have been impacted by antibiotics. This is an engaging way to introduce science concepts.

Useful links

The Ministry of Health – Manatū Hauora have resources to support World Antimicrobial Awareness Week here.

The Manatū Ahu Matua – Ministry for Primary Industries website has information about antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use in plants and animals in New Zealand.

Royal Society Te Apārangi has produced a series of articles and videos about antimicrobial resistance, including te reo Māori resource He uaua ake te rongoā i ngā whakapokenga ātete rongoā.

Find out more about the Infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance report from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor released in March 2022. There are a series of recommendations under six themes to help Aotearoa New Zealand unite against the threat of infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance.

In this 2021 SpinOff article Why you should care about antimicrobial resistance Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris write about the serious threat of antimicrobial resistance with animated cartoons helping to explain more.

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