Antimicrobial resistance, infection control and planning for pandemics: : the importance of knowledge transfer in healthcare resilience and emergency planning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

563 Downloads (Pure)


Over the last 70 years, the efficacy, ready availability and relatively low cost of antimicrobial drugs – medicines that kill microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses or inhibit their multiplication, growth and pathogenic action – has led to their considerable overuse. It is estimated that nearly 50 per cent of all antimicrobial use in hospitals is unnecessary or inappropriate 1 while in neonatal care, the figure is even higher, with infection confirmed in only five per cent of neonates treated with antibiotics.2 The more antimicrobials are used, the faster the microorganisms they target evolve into new, resistant strains, a natural process of evolution that threatens to undermine the tremendous life-saving potential of these drugs. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing concern not only for the healthcare sector3 but also, increasingly, for security and resilience. Pandemic influenza, comparable only to 'Catastrophic terrorist attacks’ at the top of the UK's National Risk Register4 may well result from the emergence of a strain that cannot be treated effectively with currently available drugs or from one that quickly develops resistance to the stockpiled countermeasures. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis impacts on immigration policy, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a major cause of hospital-acquired infections is an ongoing challenge for the health sector and the increase in drug-resistant strains of malaria is problematic both in its own right and as an additional consequence of climate change. AMR places a significant burden on international governments and tackling it requires changes to thinking across a number of government departments. In 2011, the Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR) published Recommendations for future collaboration between the US and EU1 and both the EU and the UK's Department of Health have recently developed new AMR strategies and Action Plans. This paper will explore the cross-disciplinary policy challenges that AMR presents and the difficulties that are likely to be faced in implementing the recommendations of the TATFAR report. It will compare and contrast the efficacy of some of the programmes already in place to help reduce or better target the use of antimicrobials and discuss potential areas for further research and development into tackling a growing international problem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122
Number of pages135
JournalJournal of Business Continuity and Emergency Planning
Issue number2
Early online date16 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • antimicrobial resistance
  • antibiotics
  • tuberculosis
  • MRSA
  • healthcare resilience

Cite this