Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021: How resistance to antibiotics develops

News: The development of resistance to antimicrobial is a major public health problem all over the world.

Though the world is trying to develop new drugs, there are difficulties in treatment as a result of the rapid development of resistance to these drugs.

What is antimicrobial resistance(AMR)?

It occurs when microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites) evolve and stop responding to medicines, making even minor infections tough to treat, causing severe illnesses and deaths.

What are the reasons for AMR?

Poor prescription practices, inappropriate antibiotics in pharmacies, and self-medication practices are key determinants of AMR in India.

What are the different types of AMR?

Natural (intrinsic, structural) resistance: This kind of resistance is caused by the structural characteristics of microbes and is not associated with the use of antimicrobials. It has no hereditary property.

Acquired resistance: Due to changes in the genetic characteristics of microbes, acquired resistance occurs as it is now unaffected by the previous antimicrobial.

-This kind of resistance occurs mainly due to structures of chromosomes or extrachromosomal such as plasmid, transposon, and others.

Cross resistance: Some microorganisms are resistant to a certain drug that acts with a similar mechanism as some other drugs. However, sometimes it can also be seen in completely unrelated drug groups.

-This resistance is usually observed against antibiotics whose structures are similar. This may be the chromosomal or extrachromosomal origin.

Multi-drug resistance and pan-resistance: These are often bacteria resistant to the antibiotics used to treat them. This means that a particular drug is no longer able to kill or control the bacteria.

How vaccines can help reduce the AMR burden?

Vaccinations not only prevent diseases but also prevent the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

-Prevention of infections through vaccines results in reduced use of anti-microbials for treatment, reducing the emergence of resistance.

What are the steps taken in this regard?

The Global Action Plan (GAP) on AMR was launched in 2015 by WHO. Today, almost 80 countries have announced National Action Plans to address AMR at a national level.

In India, the recent announcement to universalize PCV across the country would protect children not only from pneumococcal disease, but also protect children and other populations from the emergence of drug-resistant pneumococcal disease.

Source: This post is based on the articles “Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021: How resistance to antibiotics develops” and “Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021: How vaccines can help reduce India’s AMR burden” published in Down To Earth on 24 Nov 2021.

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