A UK-wide plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been welcomed by the Minister of Health of Northern Ireland, Robin Swann and the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir MLA.

The five-year National Action Plan ’Confronting antimicrobial resistance 2024 to 2029’ builds on progress made over the past two decades to understand and mitigate AMR by strengthening existing UK commitments to prevent infections, optimise the use of antimicrobials, and invest in research and innovation.

All four nations within the UK have jointly developed the plan and set out nine strategic outcomes to address threats to human health, medicine, animal health, food security and the environment.

Minister Muir said that antimicrobial resistance to veterinary medicines can “not only affect humans, animal health and welfare, it could also severely affect the agricultural industry as a whole, through its potential impact on Northern Ireland farming sustainability and trade.

“Only a ‘One Health’ approach can keep our antibiotics working for all.”

He continued: “This is why it is critical that we collaborate, not only with other government departments, but with key stakeholders in the agriculture, environment and veterinary sectors to build on the success to date highlighted by the 59% decline in UK agriculture antibiotic sales since 2014.”


AMR arises when organisms that cause infection evolve to survive antimicrobial treatment. This makes standard treatments ineffective, allowing infections to arise, persist, and spread.

If AMR continues to spread, some infectious diseases, which in the UK would normally be simple to treat with an antibiotic, may become significant new causes of illness and death.

According to Minister Swann: “Antimicrobial resistance is a clear threat to human health. It causes people to suffer longer infections which are more difficult to treat or may even in some cases lead to fatality.

“The National Action Plan launched is key to mitigating that threat, which can only be achieved by working collaboratively across UK nations and with our partners here in Northern Ireland to preserve and develop these essential medicines for generations to come.”