Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) refers to the phenomenon where microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites evolve over time and become resistant to the effects of medicines, leading to increased challenges in treating infections and raising the risk of disease transmission, severe health issues, and fatalities.

Urgent Need for Affordable and Equitable Access to Mitigate AMR:

  • AMR: A Silent Pandemic: A study published in The Lancet highlighted that in 2019, 1.27 million individuals lost their lives due to AMR, surpassing even the toll caused by HIV/AIDS or malaria. The global impact of AMR is alarming, demanding immediate attention.
  • Global Interconnectedness: AMR knows no geographical boundaries in our interconnected world. Affordable and equitable access to vaccines is imperative across all nations, especially in developing and economically challenged countries, to curb the threat of AMR.
  • Lessons from COVID-19: The inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines emphasized the vulnerability of poorer nations during pandemics. Similarly, tackling AMR requires a collaborative worldwide effort.
  • Drivers of AMR in Developing Nations: Factors contributing to AMR are more prevalent in underprivileged countries:
    • Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials
    • Inadequate access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
    • Weak infection prevention and control in healthcare and agriculture
    • Limited access to quality medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics
    • Lack of awareness and knowledge, alongside poor legislative enforcement
  • Vaccine Coverage Disparity: Developing nations lag behind in vaccine coverage. For instance, of the six main bacterial pathogens causing AMR-related deaths, only one has a vaccine – Pneumococcal disease.

Global Initiatives to Combat AMR:

  • Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS): WHO’s initiative aims to collect and incorporate AMR surveillance data, particularly from hotspot countries like India and Africa.
  • Go Blue for AMR Campaign: A worldwide campaign to raise AMR awareness and promote best practices, especially beneficial for low-income countries.
  • Global Action Plan (GAP): The plan focuses on enhancing awareness and understanding of AMR through effective communication, education, and training. It also advocates for sustainable investment in vaccines and interventions.
  • Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP): Aims to develop new vaccine candidates to combat AMR.

Initiatives in India:

  • National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR): Launched in 2017, this plan adopts a One Health approach to address AMR, with an inter-ministerial consensus through the Delhi Declaration on AMR.
  • AMR Surveillance and Research Network (AMRSN): Established by ICMR, this network generates evidence and tracks trends of drug-resistant infections in India.
  • Regulatory Measures: ICMR recommendations led to the ban of inappropriate drug combinations and the use of Colistin as a growth promoter in animal feed. FSSAI introduced “Antibiotic Residues Limits” in animal-origin food.
  • Red Line Campaign: Raises awareness against self-medication, particularly with antibiotics.

The looming threat of AMR could potentially take us back to an era where basic infections were untreatable. Addressing AMR requires increased vaccine development and a One Health approach, emphasizing collaboration across sectors to ensure the effective containment of this global challenge.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish March 14, 2024