Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) remains a major public health issue. AMR occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria, adapt the ability to survive exposure to a treatment that would normally kill them. Inappropriate and unnecessary antibiotic use speeds up the development of AMR.
A 'One Health' approach to tackling AMR was adopted in Scotland in 2016 and acknowledges that the health of humans, animals and the environment are interconnected. Antimicrobial use and spread of infection in humans, animals and the environment contribute to the development of resistant infections.
In line with this approach, this report includes information from 2020 on antimicrobial use and resistance in humans, animals and the environment.
It should be noted that this report was produced during the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a profound impact on healthcare services and for citizens of all ages in Scotland and beyond. There have been, and will continue to be, the emergence of new models of care and changes in the way antimicrobials are used.
Tackling AMR, which has been described as a slow-burning pandemic, remains vitally important. Sustained action to preserve antibiotics and reduce drug resistant infections is crucial to secure the future delivery of healthcare through and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.