ANTI-MICROBIAL RESISTANCE (AMR)
What is an anti-microbial drug?
Anti-microbial drugs are substances that are used to treat a wide variety of infectious disease in humans and animals. They kill the micro-organisms; stop the micro-organisms from growing and multiplying. Example; antibiotics
What is anti-microbial resistance?
The ability of micro-organisms to withstand anti-microbial treatments is anti-microbial resistance. Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance to the majority of antibiotics (anti-microbial drugs) , 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.
Example: MRSA (Methicillin-resistance staphylococcus aureus) commonly present on human skin and mucous membranes.
Anti-microbial resistance has now become a global concern because new resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death. Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very high risk.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is accelerating this process. In many places, antibiotics are overused and misused in people and animals, and often given without professional oversight. Examples of misuse include when they are taken by people with viral infections like colds and flu, and when they are given as growth promoters in animals or used to prevent diseases in healthy animals.
WHO estimates that, in 2014, there were about 480000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a form of tuberculosis that is resistant to the two most powerful anti-TB drugs. Only about a quarter of these (123 000 cases) were detected and reported.
In 2010, an estimated 7% of people starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) in developing countries had drug-resistant HIV. In developed countries, the same figure was 10–20%. Some countries have recently reported levels at or above 15% amongst those starting HIV treatment, and up to 40% among people re-starting treatment. This requires urgent attention.
Antimicrobial resistance is a complex problem that affects all of society and is driven by many interconnected factors. The good news is that we know how to reduce antimicrobial resistance. We need to reduce the need for antimicrobials through good clinical practice, immunization, improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene, and good animal husbandry; we also need to ensure that these medicines are used more prudently in both people and animals, through better diagnostics, better access to the right drugs, and better regulation of antibiotics. We also need a much better system for monitoring supplies of drugs, where they are shipped, how they are distributed, and monitoring and reporting of the prevalence of drug-resistant infections in humans and animals.