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World Antimicrobial Awareness Week: AMR is undermining a century of progress in medicine, say experts – The Indian Express

Covid-19 has brought antimicrobial resistance (AMR) into the spotlight. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microbes such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites no longer respond to medicines, making infections difficult to treat.
The WHO has declared antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as one of the top 10 global health threats. Many factors have accelerated the threat of AMR worldwide, including overuse and misuse of medicines in humans, livestock and agriculture, as well as poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.
This year during the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (November 18-24), ‘Go Blue’ campaign intends to raise awareness on AMR. By ‘going blue’, individuals, workplaces, landmarks, and communities will help to spread awareness about antimicrobial resistance.
“Having good infection control is key to dealing with AMR,” said Dr Haileysus Getahun, director of the Department of Global Coordination and Partnership on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) at WHO.
At a virtual global media forum to observe World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, experts like Dr Getahun said that AMR is like an active volcano. A systematic review found that while there was only 6.9 per cent of 3,338 Covid-19 patients with bacterial infection, 72 per cent of them had received antibiotics.
The adverse impact of irrational use of antibiotics in Covid patients will manifest itself in future, the experts said.
Joseph Thomas, head of Antimicrobial Stewardship and Awareness at WHO headquarters, said, “Antimicrobial resistance is undermining a century of progress in medicine; infections that were previously treatable and curable with our drugs are becoming (or at risk of becoming) incurable (as medicines are not working against infections). Even common infections are becoming risky and a problem. Surgeries are becoming risky and the cause of all this is found in the behaviour of human beings who are misusing or overusing antimicrobials. We must ensure that when we are sick we are only taking antimicrobials on medical advice and medical supervision.”
Dr Kamini Walia, scientist at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and who is leading the setting up of the council’s antimicrobial surveillance network and coordinating activities of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Programme nationwide, said that antimicrobial surveillance is important because it provides us with evidence of the disease burden in the country and how antimicrobial resistance trends are changing with time.
This information will not be available to us unless we have a very strong surveillance system to detect these changes in a timely fashion – so that we can launch an informed response based on the evidence, Walia said.
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