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Antimicrobial resistance: a global view from the 2013 World Healthcare-Associated Infections Forum

Angela Huttner1, Stephan Harbarth1, Jean Carlet2, Sara Cosgrove3, Herman Goossens4, Alison Holmes5, Vincent Jarlier6, Andreas Voss7, Didier Pittet1* and for the World Healthcare-Associated Infections Forum participants

Author Affiliations

1 Infection Control Programme and WHO Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety, University Hospitals of Geneva, Rue Gabrielle-Perret-Gentil 4, 1205, Geneva, Switzerland

2 Fondation Hôpital St Joseph, Paris, France

3 Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

4 Department of Medical Microbiology, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium

5 Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunity, Imperial College London, The Centre for Infection Prevention and Management, London, UK

6 Laboratory of Bacteriology-Hygiene, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, Paris, France

7 Department of Medical Microbiology and Infection Control, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre and Canisius-Wilhelmina Hospital, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control 2013, 2:31  doi:10.1186/2047-2994-2-31

Published: 18 November 2013


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is now a global threat. Its emergence rests on antimicrobial overuse in humans and food-producing animals; globalization and suboptimal infection control facilitate its spread. While aggressive measures in some countries have led to the containment of some resistant gram-positive organisms, extensively resistant gram-negative organisms such as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae and pan-resistant Acinetobacter spp. continue their rapid spread. Antimicrobial conservation/stewardship programs have seen some measure of success in reducing antimicrobial overuse in humans, but their reach is limited to acute-care settings in high-income countries. Outside the European Union, there is scant or no oversight of antimicrobial administration to food-producing animals, while evidence mounts that this administration leads directly to resistant human infections. Both horizontal and vertical infection control measures can interrupt transmission among humans, but many of these are costly and essentially limited to high-income countries as well. Novel antimicrobials are urgently needed; in recent decades pharmaceutical companies have largely abandoned antimicrobial discovery and development given their high costs and low yield. Against this backdrop, international and cross-disciplinary collaboration appears to be taking root in earnest, although specific strategies still need defining. Educational programs targeting both antimicrobial prescribers and consumers must be further developed and supported. The general public must continue to be made aware of the current scale of AMR’s threat, and must perceive antimicrobials as they are: a non-renewable and endangered resource.

Antimicrobial resistance; Antimicrobial conservation; Antibiotic stewardship; Infection control; Hand hygiene; Surveillance networks; Care bundles; Environment; Regulations; Human medicine; Animal medicine; Global health; World Healthcare-Associated Infections Forum