The irrational use of antibiotics and the resultant emergence of super bugs has led to an alarming increase in Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR).
Anti-microbial resistance (AMR) has emerged as the new-age threat to public health. AMR occurs when micro-organisms develop resistance to antimicrobial medicines to which they were previously sensitive, leading to persistent infections and ineffective standard treatments.
In India, the AMR threat is rising at an alarming rate mainly due to irrational use of antibiotics and emergence of super-bugs. These super-bugs are highly evolved creatures that have developed an ability to withstand antibiotics through mutations in their genetic make-up.
Interestingly, the level and complexity of resistance exhibited by these super-bugs is attributable to the increased use of antibiotics in the past decade.
AMR is responsible for longer lasting infections and higher risk of death, as it reduces the effectiveness of the treatment. In addition, resistant infections require more advanced and costlier therapies, which result in increased healthcare costs and financial burden on patients and their families.
Even worse, from the medical perspective, AMR can actually render serious infections uncontrollableand increase the risk of contracting life-threatening infections post-surgery. The success of organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy and major surgery would be compromised without effective antimicrobials for care and prevention of infections.
Realising the enormity of the problem, the government formulated a policy for containment of antimicrobial resistance in 2011. However, effective execution is a huge challenge. The policy lays emphasis on rationalising the use of available antimicrobials across the healthcare sector. It also intends to connect hospitals by enabling exchange of data and information and thus developing a national surveillance system for antibiotic resistance. Other aspects include monitoring use of antibiotics in human, veterinary, and industrial sectors, and promoting discovery of new antimicrobials based on current knowledge of resistance mechanisms.
Since the evolution of microbes through mutation is inevitable, development of new drugs through research is one of the most significant facets of combating AMR. Therefore, it is imperative to prevent the pipeline of new drugs from running dry. This needs constant research and development. Counteracting the super-bugs actually needs a holistic approach including relevant policies, adequate laws, awareness drive around rationalisation of antimicrobial drug usage and acceleration of research and development activities for novel and more effective drugs.