[Answered] Anti-microbial resistance is an impending health catastrophe and requires a multi-disciplinary approach and investment in R&D. Comment.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.

Body: Explain some challenges posed by Anti-microbial resistance. Also write some measures to tackle it.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when microbes like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. The WHO has declared it as one of the top 10 health threats facing humanity.

Challenges posed by Anti-microbial resistance:

  • Threat to the health care system: Antimicrobials prevent infections post a routine surgery or cancer treatment. Their ineffectiveness would impair the modern health system. The problem is more serious for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) of Asia and Africa where cheap antimicrobials have significantly reduced the mortality rates.
  • Loss of Human Lives: It is responsible for upto 7 lakh deaths a year.  E.coli and MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) are among the drug-resistant bacteria that led to most deaths. It is estimated that 10 million annual deaths would be caused by it post 2050.
  • Economic Brunt: Abundant capital would be required to manage the AMR crisis in future. As per an estimate it may cost up to US$ 100 trillion by 2050.
  • Possibility of Next Pandemic: Scientists are worried that the next global pandemic might be caused by a superbug e.g., in 2021 researchers found a superbug (C. Auris) on remote sandy beaches of Andaman Islands that was multi-drug resistant.

Measures:

  • Disease prevention and wellness: We need to spearhead sanitation drives, ensure a clean water supply and support hospital-driven infection-control programmes.
  • Coordination across the animal industry and environmental sectors to prevent the unnecessary use of antibiotics in farms is necessary.
  • Development of robust surveillance systems that allow us to detect resistant pathogens of all kinds in the environment and hospitals that would eventually allow containment.
  • The baselineinformation on the antibiotic type, the extent of usage, tracking agricultural practices that promote resistance needs to be generated. This will aid in better decision making and improve follow up actions.
  • A novel approach, such as‘One Health’, is required to better understand the environmental dimensions of AMR and take science-based decisions and actions.
  • There is a need for robust investment in research and development of new antibiotics, rapid and affordable diagnostics, strengthening infection control etc. to swiftly tackle the AMR crisis.

While the scientific community looks for solutions, governments must raise the standard of living for citizens, provide them accessible and affordable quality health care, besides regulating the sale and use of antibiotics.

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