Why antimicrobial resistance is on the rise



Antimicrobial resistance or AMR continues to threaten the effective treatment and prevention of steadily increasing numbers of infections that are caused by fungi, viruses, parasites and bacteria. A genuinely serious threat to global public health, AMR compromises on the success of cancer chemotherapy and major surgery because of a deficit of effective antibiotics.

There is also a rising cost of health care for those with resistant infections compared to individuals having non-resistant infections. This is primarily due to more required tests, longer illness duration and the utilization of costlier medicines. The battle against malaria and HIV has become more complicated due to drug resistance, and this is alongside the huge number of people developing multi-resistant tuberculosis each year on a global scale.

Occurring when microbes including parasites, viruses, fungi and bacteria change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs, antimicrobial resistance is exhibited by microorganisms that are sometimes designated as ‘superbugs.’ The presence of these ‘superbugs’ renders medicines ineffective, making infections persist in the body and increasing the likelihood of spreading to other people.

The continued rise and spread of antimicrobial resistance naturally occur over time. It is attributed to genetic alterations. That said, it is hastened due to the misuse and overuse of antimicrobial drugs both in people and animals and which are administered without professional supervision.

Incorrectly prescribed antimicrobials also encourage the growth of resistant bacteria, with studies showing that the duration of antimicrobial therapy, choice of agent and even treatment indication are incorrect in roughly 30 percent to half of the cases. Wrong antibiotic prescriptions result in dubious therapeutic benefit while also putting the patient at risk of potential antibiotic therapy complications.

Because of the extensive use of antibiotics as growth supplements in livestock, the drugs are ingested in food for human consumption. This transfers resistant bacteria to humans from farm animals, contributing to AMR.

Another contributing factor to AMR is the many regulatory and economic obstacles to the availability of more antibiotics. Add to this the regulatory barriers that make it more challenging for companies to get approval for their antimicrobials. These include the absence of clarity, bureaucracy, changes in licensing and regulatory rules, differences in clinical trial requirements from one country to another, and the ineffective communication routes all over the world.

Besides, the comparatively low cost of antibiotics also leads to the low-value perception of those products among consumers and payors.

Antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms are to be found in the environment to the same degree as they are found in people, animals, and the environment. The spread of infection is from person to person or between animals and individuals. What also promote AMR are improper food handling, inadequate sanitary conditions and poor control or containment of infection.

AMR is a problem that all countries of the world now face. This puts AMR patients at ever-increasing risk of worsening clinical outcomes or even death. There is an immense need for coordinated action if AMR is to be efficiently and effectively battled on all fronts, with all countries pitching in with greater investment and innovation in the development and research of new diagnostic tools, vaccines, and antimicrobial medicines.

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