Statement from Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and Dr. Mary Jane Ireland, Chief Veterinary Officer of Canada on World AMR Awareness Week, November 18 to 24, 2023


November 20, 2023 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

World AMR Awareness Week, held from November 18 to 24, is a global initiative to increase awareness about the growing issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This year's theme is once again "Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together," highlighting the importance of collaboration.

AMR is a complex issue ranked by the World Health Organization among the top ten threats worldwide. This underscores the profound impact of AMR on the health of both humans and animals, as well as its broader impacts for our shared environment and for marginalized communities that are disproportionately affected. In 2018, 5,400 deaths in Canada were directly related to AMR and in the same year, AMR cost the Canadian healthcare system about $1.4 billion and reduced Canada's gross domestic product by an estimated $2 billion. In the intervening years, rates for most priority pathogens have continued to increase from 2016 to 2020.

The centrepiece of Canada's coordinated efforts to respond to AMR is the recently-released Pan-Canadian Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (PCAP). This five-year plan (2023 – 2027) aligns with the One Health approach, recognizing the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environment health.

The Action Plan was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada with the provinces and territories. It also engages health professionals, the agriculture industry, life sciences innovators and firms, academia, and environmental health professionals. This collaboration is crucial to help develop and secure access to new antimicrobials and alternatives, promote the appropriate use of antimicrobials, reduce the spread of AMR, and preserve the effectiveness of these important drugs to improve health for all.

Budget 2023 committed new funds for PHAC to undertake an AMR pilot project to secure new antimicrobials for Canadians. PHAC is working with domestic and global partners to incentivize antimicrobial manufacturers to make their drugs available in Canada. In addition, Canada has invested in global AMR initiatives that will benefit Canadians, including a $6.3M investment in the Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X), a global pooled fund that supports global and domestic antimicrobial innovation.

We should maintain a cautious approach to antibiotic use, including being mindful of when antibiotics are truly necessary and refraining from using them for viral illnesses for which they do not work. Additionally, implementing rigorous infection prevention measures, such as frequent and thorough handwashing, avoiding contact with others when unwell, practicing proper hygiene, and ensuring appropriate biosecurity on farms can limit the spread of infections. It is also equally important that individuals ensure that their vaccinations are up to date for themselves and their animals as they can effectively reduce the likelihood of severe illnesses and subsequent need for antibiotic treatments.

Likewise, for healthcare and veterinary professionals, staying informed about the current landscape of AMR and integrating evidence-informed guidance are pivotal in the battle against AMR. Accurately assessing the necessity for antibiotics and considering alternatives can aid in reducing unnecessary prescriptions and subsequently mitigating the development of AMR.

By working together, we can curb the rise of AMR for a healthier future. This World AMR Awareness Week, I encourage everyone to learn more about AMR and how they can play a role in combatting this global health threat:

Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer

Dr. Mary Jane Ireland
Chief Veterinary Officer


Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

Media Relations
Canadian Food Inspection Agency

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