Taming Defiant Bugs – Dealing with Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) | 9th January 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about dealing with the growing health issue of Antimicrobial resistance (AMR).


  • GS2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health;
  • GS3: Awareness in the field of Biotechnology;
  • Prelims

What are antimicrobials?

  • Antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics – are medicines used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants.

What is antimicrobial resistance?

  • 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.

The 6 main causes of antibiotic resistance are as follows:

  1. Over-prescription of antibiotics
  2. Patients not finishing the entire antibiotic course
  3. Overuse of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming
  4. Poor infection control in health care settings
  5. Poor hygiene and sanitation
  6. Absence of new antibiotics being discovered

Solutions to tackle AMR:

  • Tackling AMR and coming up with solutions means navigating complex domains of science and society to develop cross-disciplinary solutions.
  • AMR national action plans (NAPs) have been implemented in several surveyed economies including India for human health.
  • Prevention
    • Disease prevention and wellness are key to public health and thus preventing infections whenever and wherever possible is equivalent to averting resistance.
    • Reducing AMR also requires prescribing antimicrobials judiciously and only when they are absolutely needed.
    • There is also a need for more cohesion within management strategies.
    • Coordination across the animal industry and environmental sectors to prevent the unnecessary use of antibiotics in farms — this nurtures drug-resistant organisms in our food supply — is necessary.
  • Development of robust surveillance systems that allow us to detect resistant pathogens of all kinds in the environment and hospitals that would eventually allow containment.
  • Invest heavily in research and development through both government and private funding.
    • There is an urgent need for a strong pipeline of new antibiotics; an essential component in restoring the balance and ensuring that we have new tools in the fight against AMR.
  • To formulate new types of financial incentives to measure return on investment and measure profitability by the social value of the antibiotic, breaking the conventional link between sales and profits.
  • We need to bring a collective moral vision to AMR and start thinking of antibiotic/antimicrobial drugs as limited resources that should be available to all.
  • “One Health” approach
    • One Health is an approach that recognizes that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and our shared environment.
    • One Health is not new, but it has become more important in recent years. This is because many factors have changed interactions between people, animals, plants, and our environment.

Way Forward:

  • AMR  is a global health and development threat. WHO has declared that AMR is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity.
  • The cost of AMR to the economy is significant and it is critical to develop policies and implement them through a holistic “One Health” approach.

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