Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) : In top 10 global health threats

Shobha Shukla, Bobby Ramakant– CNS
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is already among the top 10 global health threats. "If AMR is going to impact our present and future, then we, the young people, should be most concerned. We have to combat AMR, prevent AMR, and engage youth," said Mayowa Sodiq Akinpelu, Chair of African Youth Antimicrobial Resistance Alliance Task Force. Mayowa was speaking at the launch of a Youth Manifesto for the United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on Antimi- crobial Resistance (UNH-LM on AMR) on 26th September 2023.
This youth manifesto has been prepared by a consultation process facilitated by the Quadripartite Working Group on Youth Engagement for AMR, shared Dr Philip Mathew of the World Health Organization (WHO) AMR Awareness, Campaign and Advocacy team (on LinkedIn), who was present at the launch of the youth manifesto.
"If we do not stop AMR, we the youth, will be suffering its catastrophic im- pact when we are adults of the day. We have to avert this challenge," said Naha-shon Gicheru, a member of Quadripartite Working Group on Youth Engagement for AMR.
Protect the medicines we have
"Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and become resistant to (or no longer respond to) medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. AMR is a problem driven by misuse and overuse of antimicrobial medicines, including antibiotics and antivirals, and results in critical medicines losing effectiveness to treat infections," said Thomas Joseph, Head, AMR Awareness, Advocacy and Campaigns, World Health Organization (WHO) HQ.
AMR is not a 'silent pandemic'
When AMR is preventable, then even one death is a death too many. AMR is associated with an estimated 4.95 million deaths annually, mainly in low-and middle-income countries.
AMR is a health concern that affects all ages. It also transcends borders, both territorial and scientific, affecting human, animal and plant health as well as the environment, weaving a complex net of global repercussions. AMR can signi- ficantly affect achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. Financially, AMR would cost the world US$ 412 billion a year in additional health-care costs and US$ 443 billion per year in lost workforce productivity.
"If we look at these statistics, then cost of AMR is astronomical. Economic cost is itself catastrophic. It impacts our future," said Nahashon Gicheru.
AMR-a threatening candidate for the next global health emergency
In addition to deaths, which are projected to increase to 10 million a year by 2050, other expected impacts of AMR include increased morbidity due to infectious diseases, longer hospital stays, escalation of health expenditure, a fall in agricultural productivity (when food security worldwide is already threatened by the dire consequences of the climate crisis) and decreased animal health and welfare, exacerbating animal suffering and loss.
Preventing and mitigating AMR require a multisectoral response based on a One Health approach, involving the human health, food production, animal, plant and environmental health sectors, for collaborative design and implementation of evidence-based solutions. Alarming rates of resistance are being found among prevalent infectious pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi, and their resistance to existing antimicrobials is provoking a surge in the use of last-resort drugs. Now, even their effectiveness is being threatened. A two-fold increase in resistance to last- resort antibiotics is projected by 2035, making AMR a threatening candidate for the next global health emergency.
Youth uprising against AMR
AMR is a rising concern that looms over the 1.8 billion young people around the world, even as it progressively decreases the number of effective antimi-crobials. Youth around the world have been fighting AMR through various initiatives at grassroots and global levels, such as campaigns, youth summits, innovative hackathons and outreach activities.
(To be contd)