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Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week 2023, Reasons, Impact

Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week 2023

The World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week takes place from November 18-24 every year. This week is a time to raise awareness of the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to encourage the use of antimicrobials responsibly. AMR is a serious threat to global health, with an estimated 10 million deaths annually attributed to drug-resistant infections by 2050 if no action is taken.

Key objectives of World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week include:

  • Raising awareness of AMR among the general public, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and other stakeholders.
  • Promoting the appropriate use of antimicrobials, both in human and animal medicine.
  • Encouraging the development of new antimicrobials and alternative therapies.
  • Strengthening surveillance and monitoring of AMR.
  • Improving infection prevention and control measures.

Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week 2023 Theme

The theme for Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week 2023 is “Preventing antimicrobial resistance together.” This theme emphasizes the need for collaboration among various sectors, including human health, animal health, plant health, and the environment, to tackle AMR effectively.

Anti-Microbial Resistance

Anti-microbial resistance is the ability of microorganisms to persist or grow in the presence of drugs designed to inhibit or kill them. It is one of the major threats to global health, food security and development as it threatens the effective prevention and treatment of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. Antimicrobial-resistant organisms are found in people, animals, food, plants and the environment (in water, soil and air).

Reasons for Spread of Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR)

  • Antibiotic consumption in humans: Excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics in human healthcare can contribute to the emergence of bacterial strains resistant to multiple antibiotics. This includes the unnecessary use of antibiotic-fixed dose combinations.
  • Social factors: Practices such as self-medication and easy access to antibiotics without prescription can contribute to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics. Lack of knowledge about when to use antibiotics appropriately also plays a role.
  • Cultural activities: Certain cultural practices, such as mass bathing in rivers during religious mass gatherings, can contribute to the spread of AMR by facilitating the exchange of antibiotic-resistant organisms.
  • Antibiotic consumption in food animals: The use of antibiotics, especially those crucial to human health, as growth promoters in food animals, such as poultry, can contribute to the development of AMR. Antibiotic residues can enter the food chain and contribute to the spread of resistance.
  • Pharmaceutical industry pollution: Wastewater effluents from antibiotic manufacturing units often contain significant amounts of antibiotics. When these effluents are not properly treated, they can contaminate water bodies, leading to the presence of antibiotic residues and antibiotic-resistant organisms.
  • Environmental sanitation: Inadequate disposal of sewage and improper treatment of wastewater can contribute to the contamination of rivers and other water bodies with antibiotic residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Infection control practices in healthcare settings: Poor adherence to infection control practices, such as hand hygiene, in healthcare facilities can facilitate the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria among patients.

Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week 2023, Significance_4.1

Scale of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

  • Global: In 2019 alone, drug-resistant superbugs killed about 1.27 million people globally — a toll more than HIV/AIDS or malaria — and according to the UN estimates, that number could reach 10 million by 2050.
  • India: India has been referred to as ‘the AMR capital of the world & we are the largest consumer of antimicrobials globally. The country is projected to have 1.6 million multi-drug resistant infectious cases in 2040, which is significantly higher than any other country.

Impacts of Antimicrobial Resistance

  • Economic impacts: A report by the World Bank Group entitled “Drug Resistant Infections: A Threat to Our Economic Future”, highlighted that, drug-resistant infections have the potential to cause a level of economic damage similar to—and likely worse than—that caused by the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Annual global GDP could decrease by approximately 1% and there would be a 5–7% loss in developing countries by 2050.
  • Social impacts: AMR leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality and morbidity, and decreased productivity.
  • Environmental impacts: As the natural environment is an important reservoir of AMR, the release of antimicrobial compounds into the environment leads to contamination of soil and water, and gene pollution and alteration in the wildlife.

Global measures to tackle Antimicrobial resistance

  • Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (GAP): Countries adopted it during the 2015 World Health Assembly and committed to the development and implementation of multisectoral national action plans.
  • The Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS): WHO launched the Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS) in 2015 to continue filling knowledge gaps and to inform strategies at all levels.
  • STI-led BRICS Innovation Cooperation Action Plan (2021-24): One of the thematic areas is the AMR.
  • World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW): Held annually since 2015, WAAW is a global campaign that aims to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance worldwide and encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policymakers to slow the development and spread of drug-resistant infections.

Measures taken to address AMR in India

  • National Programme on AMR containment: Launched in 2012. Under this program, the AMR Surveillance Network has been strengthened by establishing labs in the State Medical College.
  • National Action Plan on AMR: It focuses on the One Health approach and was launched in April 2017 with the aim of involving various stakeholder ministries/departments.
  • AMR Surveillance and Research Network (AMRSN): It was launched in 2013, to generate evidence and capture trends and patterns of drug-resistant infections in the country.
  • AMR Research & International Collaboration: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has taken initiatives to develop new drugs /medicines through international collaborations to strengthen medical research in AMR.

Important Facts of Antimicrobial Resistance

  • The global challenge to address AMR goes beyond the production of new antibiotics and therapies.
  • Reducing demand for new antibiotics through public awareness, infection prevention and control, prudent and rational use of antibiotics, as well as effective diagnosis and surveillance of antibiotic-resistant infections and antibiotic use, with a One Health perspective are crucial when dealing with this problem globally.

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Antimicrobial Resistance FAQs

What is antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, to survive and thrive despite the presence of antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics.

What are the main causes of AMR?

The main causes of AMR are the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials. Overuse occurs when antimicrobials are used unnecessarily or for too long, while misuse occurs when antimicrobials are used for the wrong type of infection or in the wrong way.

Why is AMR a threat to global health?

AMR is a serious threat to global health, with an estimated 10 million deaths annually attributed to drug-resistant infections by 2050 if no action is taken. AMR poses a significant threat to human health, animal health, food security, and economic development.

What is World Antimicrobial Awareness Week?

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is a global campaign to raise awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which is observed annually from November 18 to 24.

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