Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

Getting ahead of Australia’s next health crisis

17 November 2022

COVID-19 found Australia unprepared,  and today’s report from the CSIRO and MTPConnect has shown us that we are not ready for the next health crisis expected to come from anti-microbial resistance (AMR).

A growing global problem leaving clinicians with few tools to fight drug-resistant bacteria, AMR could already be killing many more Australians than first thought, the report reveals, while the World Health Organisation expects there to be 10 million AMR-related deaths annually by 2050 world-wide.

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) supports the call for better data on deaths associated with AMR.

“Drug-resistant bacteria is on the rise, and Australia should prepare as well as we can: first we need to understand the problem, and that starts with better data collection” said Kylie Walker CEO of ATSE.

The World Health Organisation has noted that antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective as drug-resistance spreads globally leading to more difficult-to-treat infections and death. While global investment in new antibiotics is necessary, we need to also take a broader approach to this challenge; that includes a greater focus on prevention.

ATSE welcomes the Australian Government’s October announcement that it will establish a national Centre for Disease Control, and urges that this body takes a “One Health” approach to wicked problems such AMR. This approach means, among other things, investment in new technologies that will slow the development of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in humans, animals, and the environment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that managing a health crisis relies on multifaceted approaches including social solutions, preventative technologies, and new drugs.

“Preparing for an AMR crisis means supporting the development and uptake of new diagnostic tools, preventatives like public health measure and vaccines, antimicrobial alternatives, and more advanced surveillance methods,” said Kylie Walker.

ATSE and CSIRO are collaborating on a major report on Australia’s ability to mitigate AMR to be released in early 2023.