Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune
(Deemed to be University)
Dr. D. Y. Patil School of Allied Health Sciences,
Sant Tukaram Nagar, Pimpri, Pune-411018.

Antimicrobial Resistance: a Global Struggle, for the Glow of Health!

Antimicrobial Resistance: a Global Struggle, for the Glow of Health!

Learn about antimicrobial resistance (AMR), its causes, consequences, and prevention. Join the global fight against AMR.

Mrs. Rohini Adepwar
April, 20 2024

Microbial resistance, also called antimicrobial resistance (AMR), occurs when germs like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites undergo changes so that the drugs we use to combat them don't work as effectively. Microbes that develop antimicrobial resistance are commonly referred to as "superbugs."

AMR presents a significant challenge because it means the medications we depend on to treat infections may no longer be effective. This can prolong illnesses, exacerbate people's conditions, and escalate treatment costs. It impacts everything from everyday infections to critical medical interventions such as organ transplants and cancer care.

Day by day, it is emerging as one of the major threats to public health globally. It is estimated that bacterial AMR directly caused 1.27 million global deaths in 2019 and contributed to 4.95 million deaths. A review report released by the UK government predicted that antimicrobial resistance could lead to 10 million deaths per year by 2050.

The World Bank estimates that AMR could result in an additional US$1 trillion in healthcare costs by 2050, and US$1 trillion to US$3.4 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP) losses per year by 2030, increasing the economic burden globally. Hence, to raise awareness, the World Health Organization has initiated the global campaign World AMR Awareness Week (WAAW) since 2015, to educate people, healthcare professionals, and leaders about AMR. It takes place every November 18-24, helping everyone learn about and combat AMR (WHO AMR Fact Sheet, Nov.23).

Causes of Antimicrobial Resistance:

  • Overuse and Misuse of Antibiotics: Inappropriate use in humans (such as not completing courses) and animals (routine use in agriculture) exacerbates resistance.
  • Poor Infection Prevention and Control: Inadequate hygiene in healthcare facilitates the spread of resistant germs.
  • Substandard or Counterfeit Medicines: Low-quality drugs can lead to ineffective treatment, fueling resistance.
  • Lack of Access to Clean Water and Sanitation: Limited hygiene increases the risk of infection and spread of resistant bugs.
  • Globalization and Travel: International movement facilitates the spread of resistant microbes.
  • Agricultural Practices: Antibiotics used in farming promote the emergence and spread of resistance.
  • Environmental Pollution: Contaminants from agriculture and industry bolster resistance.
  • Inadequate Surveillance and Monitoring: Poor tracking delays the response to resistant threats.
  • Lack of Public Awareness: Low awareness about responsible antibiotic use contributes to resistance.

Consequences of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR):

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses significant problems in healthcare, the economy, and global safety. It complicates the treatment of infections, leading to more illnesses and even fatalities.

When germs become resistant to multiple drugs, doctors have fewer options, and sometimes the only choices are costly or less effective treatments. In hospitals, AMR makes surgeries and transplants riskier and more expensive. Economically, it strains healthcare budgets and impedes progress.

Globally, it makes disease control challenging and increases the likelihood of outbreaks. AMR also undermines critical treatments, such as organ transplants and cancer care. It even impacts the environment, spreading through agriculture and contaminating food and water.

How to Prevent?

It is the responsibility of every individual to prevent antimicrobial resistance, regardless of whether they belong to the healthcare field or not. Each person can contribute to minimizing the risk of AMR and help to some extent in overcoming this global issue.

Here are some simple steps to tackle antimicrobial resistance:

Maintain Hygiene

  • Attempt to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Wash your hands properly.
  • Prepare food hygienically.
  • Try to limit close contact with sick individuals.
  • Practice safer sex.
  • Keep your vaccination schedule up to date.
  • Ensure access to safe water and sanitation.

Promote Responsible Antimicrobial Use:

  • Use prescribed antibiotics only when necessary.
  • Complete your antibiotic course as prescribed.
  • Never leave it incomplete as it increases the chances of AMR resistance.
  • Do not use antibiotics without a medical prescription.
  • Do not share antibiotics with others.
  • Avoid overuse of antibiotics.

Global Action Plan (GAP): Uniting against AMR

The number of new antibiotics being developed is very low, and there's a significant problem with accessing new drug molecules. The World Health Organization found that out of 27 antibiotics being developed, only 6 are truly new and innovative.

Additionally, many countries, regardless of their wealth, struggle to obtain an adequate supply of high-quality antibiotics. Hence, many countries have stepped forward and adopted the Global Action Plan on AMR, through which they are developing and implementing various action plans on the national level with the aim of a One Health Approach to addressing AMR.

The One Health Approach involves collaborating to maintain the health of people, animals, and the environment. It helps prevent and control antibiotic resistance by bringing together different groups to create plans and policies that benefit everyone's health and economy. By November 2023, 178 nations had formulated national action plans for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in accordance with the Global Action Plan (WHO AMR Fact Sheet, Nov.23).

In conclusion, we need to work together, use drugs responsibly, invest in research, improve infection prevention practices, and be vigilant for resistance worldwide.

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