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About The Anti-Microbial Resistance


Four prominent multilateral agencies, namely the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), World Health Organization (WHO), and World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), have jointly unveiled a priority research agenda aimed at combating the pressing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This research agenda is rooted in the One Health approach.


GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)?
  2. Concerns regarding Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
  3. The ‘One Health’ Approach

What is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)?

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites to remain unaffected or survive antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials.
  • AMR occurs when microorganisms exposed to antimicrobial drugs develop antimicrobial resistance resulting in standard treatments becoming ineffective leading to persistence of infections and spreading of infections.
  • Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”.
  • The misuse of antimicrobials in medicine and inappropriate use in agriculture is one of the major causes of spread of Antimicrobial Resistance.
  • Contamination around pharmaceutical manufacturing sites where untreated waste releases large amounts of active antimicrobials into the environment also leads to spread of AMR.
Basis of Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Some bacteria due to the presence of resistance genes are intrinsically resistant and therefore survive on being exposed to antibiotics.
  • Bacteria can also acquire resistance by sharing and transferring resistance genes present in the rest of the population, or by genetic mutations that help the bacteria survive antibiotic exposure.
Multi drug resistance
  • Multiple drug resistance (MDR), multidrug resistance or multi-resistance is antimicrobial resistance shown by a species of microorganism to multiple antimicrobial drugs.
  • The types most threatening to public health are MDR bacteria that resist multiple antibiotics; other types include MDR viruses, parasites (resistant to multiple antifungals, antiviral, and antiparasitic drugs of a wide chemical variety).
  • Recognizing different degrees of MDR, the terms extensively drug resistant (XDR) and pandrug-resistant (PDR) have been introduced.

Concerns regarding Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

  • Medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very risky due to AMR.
  • AMR increases the cost of healthcare with lengthier stays in hospitals, additional tests and use of more expensive drugs.
  • No new classes of antibiotics have made it to the market in the last three decades, largely on account of inadequate incentives for their development and production.
  • Without urgent action, we are heading towards a future without antibiotics and with bacteria becoming completely resistant to treatment and when common infections and minor injuries could once again kill (referred to as antibiotic apocalypse).
  • It is putting the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and endangers achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Concerns regarding AMR in India
  • India, with its combination of large population, rising incomes that facilitate purchase of antibiotics, high burden of infectious diseases and easy over-the-counter access to antibiotics, is an important locus for the generation of resistance genes.
  • The multi-drug resistance determinant, New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1), emerged from this region to spread globally – Africa, Europe and other parts of Asia have also been affected by multi-drug resistant typhoid originating from South Asia.
  • In India, over 56,000 newborn deaths each year due to sepsis are caused by organisms that are resistant to first line antibiotics.

The ‘One Health’ Approach:

  • The ‘One Health’ approach aims to integrate and optimize the health of people, animals, and the environment.
  • It is crucial for addressing global health threats, including the prevention, prediction, detection, and response to such threats.
  • The approach has particular relevance in areas like food and water safety, nutrition, zoonotic disease control, pollution management, and the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
The One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP):
  • In May 2021, the One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP) was established to provide guidance to the FAO, UNEP, WHO, and WOAH on One Health issues.
  • The panel offers recommendations for research on emerging disease threats.
  • It also focuses on developing a long-term global plan of action to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as H5N1 avian influenza, Zika, and Ebola.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024