Infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance

Watch the Prime Minister, Min Verrall and our expert panel launch the report!

Read the report

The age of infectious disease is far from behind us. The health and wellbeing of New Zealanders continues to suffer as a consequence of established, emerging, and re-emerging pathogens. These pathogens impact economically, environmentally, and culturally important plants and animals too. To make matters worse, microbes are evolving to resist the effects of the antimicrobials designed to kill or control them. And the burden of infectious diseases falls unevenly, disproportionately impacting Māori and Pacific peoples as well as old and young people, people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, people who live in remote rural areas, and those living in hardship.

As resistance to common antimicrobial drugs increases, readily treatable infections will become increasingly challenging to manage. In addition, simple surgical procedures and disease treatments that compromise immunity (e.g. chemotherapy) will become more dangerous: the infections that commonly complicate these procedures and treatments will be hard or impossible to treat. Once antimicrobial resistance (AMR) becomes common, it will impact all of our lives, with even a simple scratch leaving us susceptible to infections that threaten our lives and wellbeing.

Tackling infectious disease and AMR requires kotahitanga – unity, togetherness – across human, animal, plant, and environmental health, bringing everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand along on the journey. The panel that guided this project made recommendations under six themes to help Aotearoa New Zealand unite against the threat of infectious disease and AMR.

These recommendations – which interweave human, animal, plant, and environmental health – draw heavily on recommendations that have been made in the past, including in the 2017 New Zealand AMR Action Plan. We know what needs to be done to unite against infectious disease and AMR in Aotearoa New Zealand – now is the time to act.