Alarming impact of antimicrobial resistance on health: Causes and solution
Taking antibiotics for common cold and fever or not completing the antibiotics course as prescribed by a doctor may put one at risk of antibiotic resistance.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently emphasised on the need for strengthened and holistic approach to tackle the global menace of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It has been observed that the health impact of AMR has been quite alarming on our society.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Anil Gurnani, Critical Care Specialist and Group Director of Kailash Hospitals, explained, “Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when the bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and the patient fails to respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and ultimately causing death.” According to him, India carries one of the largest burdens of drug‑resistant pathogens worldwide and 2 million deaths are projected to occur in India due to AMR by the year 2050.
Globally 700,000 people lose the battle to AMR per year and another 10 million are projected to die from it by 2050. AMR alone is responsible for killing more people than cancer and road traffic accidents combined and Dr Anil Gurnani revealed, “AMR interferes with the person’s overall treatment, thus reducing his/her quality of life. Taking antibiotics for common cold and fever or not completing the antibiotics course as prescribed by a doctor may put one at risk of antibiotic resistance. This leads to longer hospital stays, increased medical costs, and a higher risk of severe or complicated illness or even mortality making the bacteria or virus resistant to the medications.”
Dr Anil Gurnani shared, “AMR can occur or spread due to overuse of antimicrobials, lack of access to clean water, improper sanitation and hygiene, poor infection control, poor access to quality antibiotics, and lack of awareness and knowledge. Antimicrobial resistance is a significant public health problem in the country. In India, experts believe AMR to be a silent pandemic and has proved to be a significant health issue.”
Adding that AMR impacts people at any stage of life as a majority of people tend to buy over-the-counter medication and suffer in silence due to the lack of knowledge about how the medication works, he suggested, “Instead of taking any medication without knowledge, one should consult the doctor and follow the instructions given by him/her. The doctor-patient relationship is built on trust. So, it is better to discuss with the doctor and then only take any medication. We aim to raise awareness regarding this issue to ensure patient safety and the patients should take utmost care of their health and avoid taking antibiotics on their own.”
He added, “Also, there should be an effort to educate people on the rational use of antimicrobials and increase awareness among nurses and other healthcare providers. Antimicrobial resistance in tuberculosis, malaria, Pneumonia, and Typhoid treatment is a common occurrence and can make the person suffer. This issue needs to be highlighted to the patients. Hence, the patients are advised to consult the doctor whenever they are having any health problems and take medication as advised.”