January 16, 2015

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Around the world, rising rates of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) represents an emerging an increasingly significant cause for concern. As a variety of infectious pathogens develop greater resistance to antimicrobial drugs, such drugs consequently become less effective, leading not only to outcomes like longer recovery periods and extended hospital stays, but broader threats to the fabric of our societies and our globalized economy. Indeed, increasing rates of AMR, driven by misuse of antimicrobial drugs, could potentially undo many of the medical advances made over the past 70 years, eroding the global medical safety net and presenting a significant threat to national security.

In Antimicrobial Resistance as an Emerging Threat to National Security, Maxine Builder, Research Associate for the Council on Foreign Relations' Global Health Program, outlines the growing threat posed by this issue, and its potential implications for national security, before positing several potential solutions and policy recommendations. Notably, though growing rates of AMR do not yet pose an immediate and direct threat national security concern, Builder argues that this issue represents a creeping national security crisis. As such, without a swift and decisive response, rising rates of AMR may come to threaten a wide range of national security interests as widespread as international trade, global development, and counterterrorism. Additionally, Builder recognizes that increasing AMR is a global problem requiring global solutions, and thus recommends a variety of policies that highlight the need for international cooperation.