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Antimicrobial Resistance: Antimicrobial Resistance: Concerns and the way forward

Efforts to combat AMR require a multifaceted approach at regional, national, and global levels
09:53 PM Feb 27, 2024 IST | Dr Mohammad Iqbal Yatoo
antimicrobial resistance  antimicrobial resistance  concerns and the way forward
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Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Yatoo

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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is recognized as one of the ten major global threats to public health and development. It occurs when microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi become resistant to antimicrobial treatments that were once effective against them. These antimicrobials include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics, which are commonly used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals, and crops.

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AMR poses serious risks to human and animal health, the environment, food security, economic development, and societal equity. It also threatens pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response efforts, potentially leading to over 10 million deaths by 2050. Currently, nearly 250,000 people die each year in the European Union, and 700,000 globally due to AMR, surpassing the projected deaths from cancer in the future.

The economic impact of AMR is substantial, with a projected loss of $1 trillion in the global economy by 2050. Annual health expenditures could increase by $1.2 trillion, and the global GDP could decline by 1.1–3.8%. In the European Union alone, AMR costs approximately EUR 1.5 billion annually in healthcare costs and productivity losses.

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AMR disproportionately affects low- and middle-income countries, potentially pushing an additional 24 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 if left unaddressed. By 2050, AMR could lead to economic crises comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, jeopardizing the United Nations' sustainable development goals, particularly those related to good health and well-being (Goal 3).

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Understanding the underlying causes of AMR is crucial, as interventions are needed to mitigate its impact. Both natural and man-made factors contribute to AMR, with the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and agriculture being significant drivers. Additionally, societal pressures, inadequate diagnostics, and hospital practices exacerbate the problem.

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Efforts to combat AMR require a multifaceted approach at regional, national, and global levels. Key strategies include promoting judicious antimicrobial use, developing novel antimicrobials and alternatives, enhancing monitoring and surveillance, raising awareness, and fostering collaborations across sectors and borders.

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Recognizing the urgency of addressing AMR, global organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), have formed a joint secretariat on antimicrobial resistance to engage stakeholders.

The United Nations General Assembly in 2022 resolved to hold a UNGA High-level Meeting on AMR in 2024 which will be an opportunity to commit to clear and new targets and practical steps to address AMR. This event will allow Heads of Government and State, Government Ministers and political leaders the opportunity to discuss effective approaches to addressing AMR at a local, national and global level with regards to funding, policy development and international and multi-sectoral collaboration.

On a similar pattern, Sher E Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir (SKUAST-K) is organizing JK Agri-Med Science Congress (2023-2024) from 27 to 29th February 2024 involving experts from Agriculture and allied sciences and medical sciences with the aim of convergence of expertise in agricultural and medical science in order to discuss and focus on the issues and challenges that the bioeconomy and healthcare will be facing in future including antimicrobial resistance.

Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Yatoo is an Assistant Professor, FVSc and AH Shuhama and Principal Investigator of SERB, DST and BIRAC projects on infectious diseases of livestock

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