Time for action on Antimicrobial Resistance

New Delhi [India]: Antibiotics or antimicrobial agents have been used for the last 70 years to treat patients who have infectious diseases.

However, these drugs have been used so widely and for so long that the infectious organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted or habituated to them, making the drugs less effective.

In the last two decades, this natural phenomenon is being accelerated by human actions of overuse and release of effluents from industries into the environment, making it a public health threat globally, according to FransVlaar, Businesss Unit Director, EA ( Europe and America) and AMEA ( Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa), DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals.

India has taken a historic step recently in the area of public health by joining the global club as the largest developing country in South Asia to have taken up a National Action Plan (NAP) on AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance).

An Inter-Ministerial Consultation on Antimicrobial Resistance was held here, which saw participation from various ministries, leading among which were JP Nadda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Anil Madhav Dave, Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

The National Action Plan outlaid by the Government has six strategic points for controlling AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance) through a multi-sectoral approach:

(i) improving awareness and understanding of AMR througheffective communication, education and training;

(ii) strengthening knowledge and evidence through surveillance; (iii) reducing the incidence of infection through effective infection prevention and control; (iv) optimizing the use of antimicrobial agents in health, animals and food; (v) promoting investments for AMR activities, research and innovations; and (vi) strengthening India’s leadership on AMR.

In addition to China, India being a major hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing and the largest consumer of antibiotics in the world, our Government has taken a major responsibility of guiding its counterparts in Asia on establishing good practices, multi-sectoral engagement and effective enforcement measures to contain AMR.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials and anthelmintics).

Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”.

As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. The cost of health care for patients with resistant infections is higher than care for patients with non-resistant infections due to longer duration of illness, additional tests and use of more expensive drugs.

Globally, 480 000 people develop multi-drug resistant TB each year, and drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria, as well.

Without effective antimicrobials for treatment of infections, critical medical procedures as well as surgeries such as cardiac implants, organ transplants, chemotherapy sessions for treating cancer, diabetes management, caesarean birth deliveries and hip/knee replacements become very high risk.

AMR also increases the cost of health care and endangers achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. In February 2017, WHO announced a list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens” – a catalogue of 12 families of bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human healthare present in India with resistance to almost antibiotics. (ANI)