The future of antibiotics depends on all of us

Date published: 17 November 2019


Everyone must work together to fight the superbugs. The future of antibiotics depends on us all.


That is the message from Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride ahead of World Antibiotics Awareness Week (18-24 November).

Dr McBride said: “Antibiotics have been fighting infections which might otherwise have proved fatal for almost 100 years yet we are now seeing cases of infection on which antibiotics do not work.  Bacteria and microbes have mutated and evolved and are rapidly becoming resistant to even our most powerful antimicrobials.

“Resistance is much wider than human medicine.  It is also about farming, veterinary medicine, the food chain and the environment.  These are all inextricably linked which is why we are working across disciplines and between organisations to deal with the threat if we are to avoid a post-antibiotic disaster. This collaborative approach is known as ‘One Healthand earlier this year we produced a five-year action plan to tackle the issue.”

Each of us can join in the fight. One of the most effective weapons that we have is soap and water! Washing our hands is the best way to prevent infections occurring in the first place, and reduce the need for antibiotics to treat them.

Concluding, Dr McBride said: “Trust your doctor and accept their advice that an antibiotic may not be appropriate for every infection. Doctors have the knowledge and diagnostic tools to decide the best treatment for you. If each of us follows these simple steps we can all help keep antibiotics working for the future.” 

Notes to editors: 

1. Changing the Culture 2019-2024: OneHealth

  • The UN General Assembly adopted a political declaration on AMR and called for action.
  • In 2017 the UN convened the first meeting of the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG).
  • The framework for action proposes tackling AMR by:
    • Reducing infections and unintentional exposure;
    • Optimising use of medicines; and
    • Investing in innovation, supply and access.
  • The five-year action plan for Northern Ireland has been prepared in conjunction with a new UK 20-year vision and five-year National Action Plan

2. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

3. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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