antimicrobial resistance

 {Photo credit: MSH staff.}Journalists raise their hands in solidarity to support AMR advocacy and containment at the close of a SIAPS-supported workshop organized by the Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration and Control Authority of Ethiopia in June 2012.Photo credit: MSH staff.

Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) won’t be possible without paying close attention to one of our most pressing global health threats: drug-resistant infections.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microorganisms develop resistance to a medicine that was originally intended to disable or kill them. While microbes naturally develop resistance to antimicrobials over time, excessive or inappropriate use of antibiotics speeds up AMR. The issue is a big challenge to UHC, jeopardizing the effectiveness of surgical procedures and threatening the treatment of many infectious diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

According to estimates from The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, a report commissioned by the U.K. government and the Wellcome Trust, the financial burden from AMR could be as much as USD 100 trillion and the global gross domestic product could decrease 3.5% by 2050. AMR also causes immense loss of life—700,000 people die from drug-resistant infections each year, and this number is expected to grow to 10 million by 2050 if AMR is not contained.

{Photo by: Michael Paydos/MSH}Photo by: Michael Paydos/MSH

This article was originally published on LillyPad, a blog run by the global health care company Eli Lilly, on February 16.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global health crisis. In his AMR review, renowned economist Jim O’Neill estimates a loss of US$100 trillion in global productivity by the year 2050 if swift, comprehensive action to fight AMR is not taken. The publication acknowledges multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) as a “cornerstone of the global AMR challenge.”

 {Photo credit: Warren Zelman Photography}A pharmacy/clinic window in Democratic Republic of the Congo.Photo credit: Warren Zelman Photography

Strong health systems are necessary to help prevent and mitigate epidemics, including the oft-overlooked epidemic of antimicrobial resistance.

This is the third post in a new series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, girls, families, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics (see also: Part 1 and Part 2). Join the conversation online with hashtag .

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

Medicines are a critical component of quality health care. In fact, most of the leading causes of death and disability in low- and middle-income countries could be prevented or treated with the appropriate use of affordable, effective medicines.

Yet, about two billion people—one third of the world’s population—lack consistent access to essential medicines. Fake and substandard medicines exacerbate the problem. When these people fall ill and seek treatment, too often they end up with small quantities, high prices, poor quality, and the wrong drug. This leads to prolonged suffering, and even death.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is a global leader on pharmaceutical management and universal health coverage (UHC). 

 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Antibiotics on the shelves of a pharmacy in Rwanda.Photo credit: Todd Shapera

Picture a scenario where infections become totally untreatable because none of the available antimicrobial agents work. This is not imaginary, but is likely to happen very soon if we don’t act urgently, intensely, and consistently to tackle the rising tide of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

This week, the global health and development community is commemorating the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise global awareness on the magnitude, reach, and severity of antibiotic resistance; the event comes at a time when resistance to many antimicrobials, not just antibiotics, has now escalated to pandemic proportions and is a serious global health risk that requires urgent attention. In fact, the WHO has labeled AMR one of the biggest global public health threats.

 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Antibiotics on the shelves of a pharmacy in Rwanda.Photo credit: Todd Shapera

In May 2015, the World Health Assembly discussed and endorsed a global action plan on antimicrobial resistance. The action plan sets five strategic objectives to promote better understanding of the threat of antimicrobial resistance, and to ensure the proper use and conservation of existing antimicrobials.

South African poster encouraging appropriate use of antimicrobials, developed for Pharmacy Week 2014.

Antimicrobial resistance is a major threat to the long-term security of public health and has the potential to negatively impact our society. It is a serious and growing global health security risk, which needs to be prioritised at local and international levels.

-Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, South African Minister of Health

Last May, the World Health Assembly called for global action to address the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program in South Africa (SIAPS-SA), understanding the need for a coordinated national response, worked closely with the National Department of Health (NDoH) on the development of the National Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Strategy Framework 2014-2024 and the institutionalization of a self-assessment and continuous quality improvement approach to enhance infection prevention and control (IPC) programs.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

This post originally appeared on the Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program blog.

Does antimicrobial resistance mean the end of modern medicine as we know it? Not quite yet. However, in a report recently released on global surveillance of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that "a post-antibiotic era–in which common infections and minor injuries can kill–is a very real possibility for the 21st century."

Drug Therapeutic Committee training course in Kampala, Uganda.

As we celebrate World Health Day on April 7, 2011, the global health community is focusing on an increasingly dangerous health challenge---drug resistance. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)---defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial medicine to which it was previously sensitive---is a global public health threat that is rapidly wiping out the effectiveness of many first-line treatments. It undermines major public health achievements in treating infectious diseases such as HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and sexually transmitted infections. Not only is AMR a complex, cross-cutting problem affecting a wide variety of sectors, but it has crossed all national, geographical, and ethnic boundaries and is spreading globally.

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