The Antibiotic revolution started in 1928 has revolutionized the world, describe how antimicrobial resistance threatens to reverse all this progress.

Published: December 3, 2019

The way Antibiotics have affected human life is truly remarkable, millions of lives have been saved by them ever since modern-day penicillin was discovered in 1928. 

However, all good things must come to an end and just like that man has created yet another man-made disaster ‘the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).  AMR is defined as the resistance of viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic microorganisms to antimicrobial medicines

that were previously effective for the treatment of such infections. This process occurs naturally over time but has been accelerated by factors like-

Indiscriminate and wrong use of antimicrobial medicines by the farm, animal husbandry, aquaculture sectors. Over or Under-use of antimicrobial medicines by humans. Antimicrobial residues in soil, water bodies and plants. 

Long story short AMR is a man-man problem, in their singular aim of survival at all costs, common bugs have managed to develop a variety of mechanisms to develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The indiscriminate use of antibiotics threatened to reverse almost all the miracles achieved by the antibiotic revolution and threatens to send us back to the dark ages if not action is taken.  AMR in the medium to long term has the potential to make even minor infections lethal. Surgeries like organ transplants and heart surgeries may become an extremely difficult endeavour to undertake as untreatable bacterial or infectious complications arise post-surgery.

Discovering new antibiotics is an extremely complicated and costly process, everything from a broken economic model to high cost and time required to pharmaceutical companies refusal to invest in developing new antibacterial therapies has resulted in a situation where all the antibiotics brought to the market in the past 3 decades have been variations on existing drugs discovered by 1984. Even when an advanced variation comes into the market its indiscriminate use swiftly results in AMR, rendering it useless.

Deadly bacteria resistant to penicillin, or the more than 100 different types of antibiotics since then developed, are already killing 700,000 people annually. If no action is taken to contain the AMR threat, the economic cost in terms of lost global production between now and 2050 would be US$ 100 trillion. Third world countries who lack the necessary manpower and infrastructure to deal with this will be the hardest hit.

India, which developed its National Action Plan on AMR (NAP) in 2017 with the One Health approach at its heart (i.e human health, animal health and the environment sectors have equal responsibilities in combating AMR) must accelerate the plan’s implementation if it hopes to avoid the massive social, health and economic costs that will come with it.

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