Antimicrobial Resistance: Causes, Consequences, & Prevention | What can be done?

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Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of the microbe to resist the effect of one or more antimicrobial drugs that was originally effective for the treatment of infections it is also referred to as the condition when microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, parasites viruses etc.) does not respond to antimicrobial drugs ( antibiotic, antifungal, antimalarial etc.). If microbes are resistant to multiple antimicrobials drugs then it is termed as multi-drug resistant. Antimicrobial resistance is a growing global public health problem. World Health Report 2014, stated that “this serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country”.

How does antimicrobial resistance happen?

Antimicrobial resistance occurs in different ways, mainly it happens through naturally and genetic mutation or transmission of a resistant gene from one another. Microbes are being more and more resistant because of our behaviours and practices regarding overuse and misuse of the drugs. The practices that mainly enhance the rate of resistant are the misuse of antimicrobial drugs, poor infection control and prevention and inadequate regulation for the use of antimicrobial drugs as well as increasing use of antimicrobials in the animals and agriculture.

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After the resistance microbes develop, they develop their structure and function. During this process of development, the membrane becomes impermeable to anti-microbial drugs thus altering the attacking site of the antimicrobial drugs and the protein inhibited by drugs as well as produce an enzyme that inactivates the power of antimicrobial drugs. Due to these reasons, antimicrobial drugs does not work properly and antimicrobial resistance happens.

Why is Antimicrobial resistance global concern?

Antimicrobial resistance is a global concern because it is a global public health problem and growing threat for the word. It affects any people, any age and any country. New resistant bacteria are growing and spreading globally, decreasing our ability to treat common and life-threating infectious diseases like pneumonia, gonorrhoea, post-operative infections, HIV, tuberculosis, malaria etc., thus resulting in prolonged illness, mortality and morbidity. Due to the resistant microbes, there is a higher probability of failure of medical advancements such as complex surgeries, organ transplantation etc. and many medical standards turning into high-risk procedures.

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Antimicrobial resistance increases the burden in health care system of every country because it increases the treatment cost. The person suffering from the antimicrobial resistant bacteria and acting as a reservoir is the serious threat to the family, community, healthcare worker and even to the world. Another reason for global concern is that it may act as a setback for the achievement of sustainable development goals.

Factors affecting antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance accelerated by several factors but most common factors that accelerate antimicrobial resistance are:

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  • Overprescribing and dispensing of antimicrobial drugs by health workers
  • Patient who  did not finish their full course of treatment
  • Overuse of drugs in livestock and agriculture
  • Poor infection control and prevention in health facilities
  • Lack of hygiene and poor sanitation
  • Lack of awareness about the correct use of antimicrobial drugs and resistance.

Consequences of antimicrobial resistance

There are several clinical, public health and economic consequences associated with antimicrobial resistance. The most common consequences are:

  • Longer the duration of illness and hospital stay
  • Longer treatment and treatment with expensive drugs
  • Higher mortality and morbidity
  • Increase burden on health care system
  • Higher chances of failure medical surgeries, transplantation and other interventions.

The antimicrobial resistant have consequences not only in the life of human but also have a great effect on the animals and the surrounding.

Prevention (what can be done?)

Prevention of antimicrobial resistance is the responsibility of general people, health workers, policy makers and agriculture and veterinary sector. Every sector has its own role, responsibilities and duties.  However, the most important points that we must follow for prevention of antimicrobial resistance are;

  • Only use antimicrobial drugs, which are prescribed by a certified health professional and never pressure health worker to prescribe a drug unless he feels the need of it.
  • Take drugs exactly as your physician tells you and always take the full prescription even you feel better
  • Discard any leftover medication once you have completed your prescribed course of treatment
  • Never share antimicrobial drugs with others.
  • Prevent infections by regularly washing your hands, avoiding close contact with sick people and keeping vaccination up to date.

To conclude, we are the part of this global problem so we must follow the preventive methods, share our knowledge and take action from today for combating antimicrobial resistance. If we do not take any action at the present then we have to pay in future.

Prakash Bhatt

Prakash Raj Bhatt Maharajgunj Medical Campus, Institute of Medicine Bachelor in Public Health

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