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New plan to reduce deaths caused by infections resistant to antibiotics

Cynllun newydd i leihau nifer y marwolaethau a achosir gan heintiau sy’n ymwrthod â gwrthfiotigau

Everyone must play their part in preventing one of the world’s biggest killers, Wales’ Chief Medical and Veterinary Officers have said as they launch the next stage of a 20-year plan to reduce resistance to antibiotics

In 2019, there were an estimated 7,600 deaths directly from infections resistant to antibiotics (similar to the number of deaths in the UK due to stomach cancer), as well as 35,200 deaths as an indirect result of infections resistant to antibiotics.

Even if the patient survives, resistance makes infections far more serious and difficult to treat successfully.

But simple steps to prevent infections and avoid the inappropriate use of antibiotics in humans and animals can help prevent some of these deaths.

The UK antimicrobial resistance national action plan 2024-29 was launched today (Wednesday 8 May).

It commits the UK to reducing the need for, and optimising the use of, antimicrobials – such as antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals – in humans and animals, strengthen surveillance of drug resistant infections before they emerge and incentivise industry to develop the next generation of treatments.

In 2019, the Governments of the UK published a 20-year vision to contain, control and mitigate antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by 2040.

Despite the Covid pandemic, the UK has managed to reduce human exposure to antimicrobials by more than 8% since 2014 and reduced the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals by 59% between 2014 and 2022.

In 2023 Wales prescribed 15% fewer antibiotics in general practice than 2014, through the hard work and diligence of prescribers, community pharmacists and health board teams working in the community.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales Sir Frank Atherton said:

We want to build on the achievements of the first five years of this plan and continue to raise awareness of what everyone can do to help fight AMR.

Preventing infection in the first place is an important part of tackling AMR.  Washing your hands regularly using soap and water can minimise the risk of becoming unwell and spreading harmful bacteria to other people. 

Taking antibiotics when you do not need them means they are less likely to work in the future. Not all infections need antibiotics, and many mild bacterial infections get better on their own.

Antibiotics do not work for viral infections such as colds and flu, and most coughs and sore throats. When it comes to antibiotics, take your doctor's advice on whether you need them or not.

Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales Dr Richard Irvine said:

Wales has made a significant contribution to the previous UK five-year AMR NAP, thanks to excellent partnership working. We plan to build on this achievement, taking a One Health approach. 

Antibiotic use in animals and people is a major driver of AMR. We are committed to reducing the need to use of antibiotics in animals to ensure that these medicines continue to work in animals and prevent resistance spreading from animals to humans.

 Our work on AMR control addresses all kept animals. For farmed animals, a major priority is to promote high health production systems, which benefit animal welfare, productivity as well as reducing AMR risks. We plan to take forward the work we have done in Wales to encourage further control of AMR in the companion animal sector.

I look forward to Wales making a major contribution to the UK’s five-year AMR NAP.

Robin Howe, Consultant Microbiologist for Public Health Wales, said:

Public Health Wales welcomes the launch of this next stage of a 20-year plan to reduce resistance to antibiotics by 2040.

We can all play a role in helping to prevent anti-microbial resistance. It is important we use antibiotics exactly as directed by a doctor, nurse or pharmacist. No-one should save antibiotics for later or share them with family, friends or pets. If you have unused antibiotics you should return them to your local pharmacy. Throwing them in the bin or flushing them down the toilet leads to the contamination of rivers threatening human and animal health.

Antibiotics are a precious resource we must protect.

Notes to editors

  • National Action Plan - UK 5-year action plan for antimicrobial resistance 2024 to 2029 - GOV.UK (
  • A number of teams across the UK are responsible for delivering commitments under the NAP. These include DHSC, Defra, UKHSA, NHSE and the Devolved Governments. Responsibility has and will be further detailed in implementation plans as they develop, including action each organisation will take to meet different commitments. These will be continually reviewed and challenged internally.