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Toolbox  –  Measure

Burden of antibiotic resistance

Data on the burden of antibiotic resistance is important for understanding the magnitude of the problem and for communicating the urgency to address the topic.

Potential indicators of burden


  • Excess mortality or morbidity
  • Excess hospital, healthcare provider or payer costs
  • Economic impact (change in Gross Domestic Product)


  • Farm productivity or yield
  • Farm costs, income or profit
  • Economic impact (change in Gross Domestic Product)

Potential long term consequences of antibiotic resistance

When estimating the burden of resistance or the impact of related policies, it is important to consider the potential long term consequences of antibiotic resistance. The below diagram depicts the potential long term burden of resistance if no interventions or new antibiotics were added to the system.

The cost of inaction. Flowchart of potential consequences unless action is taken against antibiotic resistance.

Selected Resources

Resource Description
Drug-resistant infections: A Threat to our Economic Future, 2017 Report: This World Bank report estimates the potential burden of antimicrobial resistance by 2050. See “Part II. Economic Impact of AMR” for estimates of the burden of antibiotic resistance on health and agricultural sectors in low-income countries.
Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance 2014 Report: Section 3 of this WHO surveillance report (page 34-41) examines the available evidence worldwide of the health and economic burden of antibiotic resistance in 3 bacteria.
The Bacterial Challenge: Time to react Report with methodology: The first study giving an overview of antibiotic resistance trends and the human and the economic burden due to infections caused by antibiotic resistance bacteria in the EU, Iceland, and Norway.
Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013 Report that gives a snapshot of the burden and threats in the US posed by the antibiotic resistant germs having the most impact on human health.
Antimicrobial Resistance: Tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations, 2014 Report (at bottom of page): The UK Prime Minister commissioned the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance to address the growing global problem of drug-resistant infections, including selected antibiotic resistant bacteria. The paper sets out to model the potential global threat if we do not tackle antimicrobial resistance now.
Attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life-years caused by infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the EU and the European Economic Area in 2015: a population-level modelling analysis Journal article from ECDC reporting on the burden of antibiotic resistance in EU/EEA. It also includes estimates of morbidity in DALYs.
Antimicrobial resistance predicts death in Tanzanian children with bloodstream infections: a prospective cohort study Journal article: This study set out to establish the impact of antimicrobial resistance and HIV infection on health outcome in Tanzania. Bloodstream infection is a common cause of hospitalization, morbidity, and death in children.
Health and Economic Impacts of Antimicrobial Resistant Infections in Thailand: A Preliminary Study Journal article: This study assessed health and economic impacts of antimicrobial resistance in Thailand under societal perspective by using the secondary data on hospitalizations and nosocomial infections from 1,023 hospitals (abstract in available in English, article in Thai).
Antibiotic resistance – consequences for animal health, welfare, and food production Review: This article describes the negative effects of antibiotic resistance on animal health, animal welfare and different socio-economic consequences if infectious diseases in animals cannot be treated.
LiST: The Lives Saved Tool Tool: The Lives Saved Tool (LiST) is a PC tool that estimates the impact of scaling up health and nutrition interventions on maternal, newborn, and child health.
Access to effective antimicrobials: a worldwide challenge Journal article: This study assesses the global disease burden caused by limited access to antimicrobials, attributable to resistance to antimicrobials, and the potential effect of vaccines in restricting the need for antibiotics.
Clinical and economic impact of antibiotic resistance in developing countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis Review: This literature review collates studies estimating the health and cost burden of antibiotic resistance in developing countries.