- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
- As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat.
- AMR is a global health and development threat. It requires urgent multisectoral action in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- WHO has declared that AMR is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity.
- Microorganisms that have antimicrobial resistance are sometimes called “superbugs”.
Why is antimicrobial resistance a global concern?
- The emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens that have acquired new resistance mechanisms, leading to antimicrobial resistance, continues to threaten our ability to treat common infections.
- Especially alarming is the rapid global spread of multi- and pan-resistant bacteria that cause infections that are not treatable with existing antimicrobial medicines such as antibiotics.
- The cost of AMR to national economies and their health systems is significant as it affects productivity of patients or their caretakers through prolonged hospital stays and the need for more expensive and intensive care.
What accelerates the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance?
- AMR occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes.
- Antimicrobial resistant organisms are found in people, animals, food, plants and the environment (in water, soil and air). They can spread from person to person or between people and animals, including from food of animal origin.
- The main drivers of antimicrobial resistance include:
- the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials;
- overuse of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming;
- lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for both humans and animals;
- poor infection and disease prevention and control in health-care facilities and farms;
- poor access to quality, affordable medicines, vaccines and diagnostics;
- lack of awareness and knowledge; and
- lack of enforcement of legislation.
Fight against AMR
Need for coordinated action
- AMR is a complex problem that requires a united multisectoral approach.
- The “One Health” approach brings together multiple sectors and stakeholders engaged in human, terrestrial and aquatic animal and plant health, food and feed production and the environment to communicate and work together in the design and implementation of programmes, policies, legislation and research to attain better public health outcomes.
- Greater innovation and investment is required in operational research, and in research and development of new antimicrobial medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic tools.
Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance
- Globally, countries committed to the framework set out in the Global Action Plan (GAP) 2015 on AMR during the 2015 World Health Assembly of WHO and committed to the development and implementation of multisectoral national action plans.
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW)
- Held annually since 2015 (18 to 24 November), WAAW is a global campaign that aims to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance worldwide and encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to slow the development and spread of drug-resistant infections.
The Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS)
- WHO launched the GLASS in 2015 to foster standardized Antimicrobial resistance surveillance globally. Currently GLASS collects and reports data on Antimicrobial resistance rates aggregated at national level.
- In 2019, the WHO launched a new online tool aimed at guiding policy-makers and health workers to use antibiotics safely and more effectively.
- The tool, known as ‘AWaRe’, classifies antibiotics into three groups:
- Access — antibiotics used to treat the most common and serious infections
- Watch — antibiotics available at all times in the healthcare system
- Reserve — antibiotics to be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort
- The Government of India adopted the National Action Plan on AMR (NAP-AMR) in 2017, with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) as the nodal ministry.
- The overarching goal of NAP-AMR is to effectively combat antimicrobial resistance in India, and contribute towards the global efforts to tackle this public health threat.
Red Line Campaign
- The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has made it mandatory to display a 5mm-thick red vertical band (line) on packaging of prescription-only drugs (which compulsorily require Doctors’ Prescription).
- It aims at sensitising people and making them cautious while buying these Antibiotic medicines that are widely sold without prescriptions.
Why in News?
- A report released by the United Nations says that we’ve neglected a major component of the superbug problem: the environment.
- It serves as a reservoir for bacterial genes that create antimicrobial resistance, and it receives farm run-off and pharmaceutical effluent that let new resistance emerge.
- The report recognizes the environment as a place where antibiotic resistance both arises and wreaks havoc, causing as many as 1.27 million deaths per year.
- It’s a problem that public health planners have already recognized for hospitals and urgent care centers, as well as farms that produce livestock, fish, and crops.