What is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when germs, bacteria, and fungi develop the ability to resist drugs intended to control and eliminate them.

This situation poses a threat to patients, as infections that are resistant and difficult to treat can be fatal in some cases.

A new peer-reviewed report published in The Lancet Regional Health- Americas has linked 569,000 deaths to antimicrobial resistance in all 35 countries of the WHO Region of the Americas.

Antimicrobial resistance happens when microbes become resistant to treatments like antibiotics due to frequent exposure. Antibiotic use is a major cause of AMR, as it can lead to the death of some bacteria while allowing resistant ones to become more common. Overuse of antibiotics can further contribute to bacteria becoming resistant.

AMR mechanisms fall into four main categories: limiting drug uptake, modifying a drug target, inactivating a drug, and active drug efflux. Overuse of antibiotics in healthcare and livestock, as well as pollution from pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and waste management, are major contributors to Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

The Lancet report highlights that AMR is an urgent global public health threat, causing at least 1.27 million deaths globally and nearly 5 million deaths in 2019. It also notes that the United States of America sees over 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections each year.

Calls have been amplified from diverse stakeholders for urgent action on the use of only prescribed drugs and regulation of over-the-counter buying of medicines by patients for medicinal purposes.

The push for control of AMR also extends to the food safety sector, where research has shown that some poultry and livestock farmers use antibiotics in their animals, leading to resistance among humans when consumed.

AMR has been declared a global danger to humanity, prompting voiced concerns for action to mitigate its effects and save lives.

As echoed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the judicious use of antimicrobials in healthcare and agriculture, combined with a ‘one health’ approach that integrates human, animal, and environmental health, can effectively mitigate the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

Leave a reply