Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness
Team up to take AMR down
Recent research has shown that bacteria isolated from a soldier who died in World War I was in fact a superbug resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics. This is a natural phenomenon.Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microorganisms have an internal error in replication or when the traits for resistance are exchanged between the organisms. While natural, misuse of antimicrobials can also accelerate this process.
This is a threat because our ability to cure common infectious diseases will be reduced, leading to the need for stronger medication or even the inability to cure diseases. For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2012 alone there were about 450 000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (cite). There are already 10 countries where last resort treatment for gonorrhoea (third-generation cephalosporins) has failed (cite). Resistance has also been a concern with malaria, HIV, and influenza treatment. As a direct result of AMR, we see an increase in mortality from previously treatable diseases, control of infectious diseases becomes more complicated and health care costs increase,. In addition, the WHO Antimicrobial Resistance Global Report on Surveillance 2014 stated, “The pipeline for the development of new antibacterial drugs is now virtually empty.” (cite) In fact, only one new class of antibiotics has been developed during the past 30 years and certain microorganisms have developed resistance against all antibiotics currently available (cite).
This paints a bleak picture, but there is hope. The International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) and the International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA) have come together to promote the responsible use of antimicrobials in animals and humans, and to highlight the role these two profession play in advancing health around the world. As future professionals, we have the responsibility to ensure that the conditions that lead to AMR are controlled and prevented,. Additionally, we are working to disseminate information about AMR, by raising awareness about its causes, consequences, and appropriate action.
Interprofessional collaboration between pharmacists and veterinarians is of great importance to change the landscape of AMR. We believe that the role of the pharmacist is to speak out when there is an over-prescription of certain drugs.As health professionals, they have a responsibility to make sure the correct antimicrobial isgiven for the correct type of microorganism. In addition, veterinarians, as well as medical doctors, should critically consider the use of antibiotics, and base the decision on detection of the correct type of microorganisms whenever possible.
AMR is a complex problem driven by many interconnected factors. As such, single, isolated interventions might have little impact. Coordinated action is required to minimize emergence and spread of AMR. Through a collaborative project of IVSA/IPSF for AMR Day 2014, students shared their views on possible ways to halt the spread of AMR:
Health Professionals can tackle resistance by:
- Spreading awareness by educating the public that AMR is a serious threat to future generations’ health of animals and people.
- First trying to diagnose a patient with the type of infection, and then giving an appropriate antimicrobial drug.
- Rationally prescribing antimicrobial drugs and considering supportive care as an alternative when appropriate.
- Having pharmacists intervene to prevent inaccurate antimicrobial prescription by double-checking the requirement of the patient.
- Ensuring close monitoring by medicine regulatory bodies of antibiotic utilization.
- Following correct hygiene guidelines when dealing with human and animal patients to prevent the spread of AMR.
The public can tackle resistance by:
- Using antibiotics only when prescribed by a certified health professional.
- Completing the full treatment course, even if they or their pet start to feel better.
- Never sharing antimicrobial drugs with others, nor using leftover prescriptions.
Policymakers, scientists and industry can tackle resistance by:
- Fostering innovation,research, and development of vaccines, diagnostics, and infection treatment and control.
- Using combination antimicrobial drugs that complement each other to prevent AMR.
- Using antimicrobial agents in hot spot areas of hospitals to prevent the spread of AMR.
- Promoting cooperation and information sharing between various stakeholders.
- Strengthening infection control and prevention policies.
Throughout the activities of IVSA/IPSF AMR Day 2014, students, as the future of veterinary and pharmaceutical professions, spoke out and shared their views. It is up to us, as the future, to advance knowledge through research, learn to be conscientious health practitioners and most importantly, share information about the dangers of AMR and how to prevent the spread of resistant microorganisms.
Antimicrobial Resistance cannot be handled by one or the other profession: rather, a multiprofessional approach along with the help of governments and civil society is needed to put AMR down!