Antimicrobial Resistance or simply AMR is an ongoing subject of interest in the various pharmaceutical fields gaining notoriety as time flows by and this current pandemic has made it obvious that this topic needs to be addressed more carefully and effectively. Many questions surround this theme and many mysteries shadow it from the public eye.
We will try through this article to provide necessary information about AMR, and give credible and trustworthy explanations to its main components .
What is AMR ?
According to WHO Antimicrobial Resistance 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.
Or in another way Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, or protozoa) to nullify the effects of antimicrobial drugs, resulting in these drugs becoming ineffective . AMR can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.
Why should we care about it ?
Considering that in the US alone close to 3 million individuals get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and more than 35,000 people die.
Additionally, according to a collaborative CDC study, the estimated national cost to treat infections caused by six multidrug-resistant germs identified in the report and frequently found in health care can be substantial—more than $4.6 billion annually.
We can see from this data alone how much this phenomena can affect both the financial and humanitarian aspect of the health system. If it continues to spread, no one knows what would be the outcome .
Furthermore, a predicted 10 million individuals will succumb yearly to antimicrobial resistant infections . Multi-drug-resistant (MDR) bacteria (like TB and S. aureus) have become more prevalent on a global scale, and in the United States contribute a great deal to Healthcare Associated Infections(HAI's) .
How does it happen ?
As shown in the graph above, AMR occurs through precise procedures and during specific conditions. Many factors favor its proliferation. and many others can inhibit it .
How does it spread ?
What are the factors that favor it ?
- Over-prescription of antibiotics
- Patients not finishing the entire antibiotic course
- Overuse of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming
- Poor infection control in health care settings
- Poor hygiene and sanitation
- Absence of new antibiotics being discovered
- Lack of clean water for both animals and humans .
- 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 lack of enforcement of legislation .
What can we do to stop it ?
Raising awareness : one of the biggest issues surrounding this global problem is the lack of awareness towards it whether from the general populace or even the scientific community . Which brings us to the need of raising awareness towards it whether by online or grassroot campaigns or even trying to implement it into schools curriculum ( Modern Problems requires Modern Solutions)
The need for a coordinated action : considering this is a dilemma that concerns the whole world, greater innovation and investment is required in operational research, and in research and development of new antimicrobial medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic tools . In other words collaborations and partnerships between countries and multinational corporations are to be considered .
Improve sanitation and prevent the spread of infection : Prevention is better than cure – by improving healthcare systems and living standards we can markedly reduce the demand for antibiotics and therefore give less chance for new resistance strains to develop .
Improve global surveillance of drug resistance and microbial consumption .
Improve the number and the recognition of people working on infectious disease .
Addressing AMR requires a qualified workforce to implement them : There is a shortage of key professional figures such as microbiologists, infectious disease specialists, infection control specialists, pharmacists, nurses, veterinarians and epidemiologists, for example. Therefore, countries need to invest in training and rewarding these specialists .
This dilemma concerns us all and we need to pay special care to it and as future health care professionals it is our duty to keep being updated on certains matters such as this one and to learn from the mistakes that our predecessors have made so as to work towards a better healthcare system .