Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that render the medications used to cure the infections they cause ineffective. When the microorganisms become resistant to most antimicrobials they are often referred to as “superbugs”. This is a major concern because a resistant infection may kill, can spread to others, and imposes huge costs to individuals and society. Antimicrobial resistance is the broader term for resistance in different types of microorganisms and encompasses resistance to antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic and antifungal drugs.
Antimicrobial resistance is facilitated by the inappropriate use of medicines, for example, when taking substandard doses or not finishing a prescribed course of treatment. Low-quality medicines, wrong prescriptions and poor infection prevention and control also encourage the development and spread of drug resistance. Lack of government commitment to address these issues, poor surveillance and a diminishing arsenal of tools to diagnose, treat and prevent also hinder the control of antimicrobial drug resistance.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. An increasing number of governments around the world are devoting efforts to a problem so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine. A post-antibiotic era – in which common infections and minor injuries can kill – far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st Century.Genes for resistance to antibiotics, like the antibiotics themselves, are ancient.The increasing rates of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections seen in clinical practice stems from antibiotic use both within human and veterinary medicine. Any use of antibiotics can increase selective pressure in a population of bacteria to allow the resistant bacteria to thrive and the susceptible bacteria to die off. As resistance to antibiotics becomes more common, a greater need for alternative treatments arises. However, despite a push for new antibiotic therapies, there has been a continued decline in the number of newly approved drugs.Antibiotic resistance poses a grave and growing global problem: a World Health Organization report released April 2014 stated, "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. Antibiotic resistance –when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections– is now a major threat to public health."
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi.
It is an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society.
AMR is present in all parts of the world. New resistance mechanisms emerge and spread globally.
In 2012, there were about 450 000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) has been identified in 92 countries. MDR-TB requires treatment courses that are much longer and less effective than those for non-resistant TB.
Resistance to earlier generation antimalarial drugs is widespread in most malaria-
endemic countries. Further spread, or emergence in other regions, of artemisinin-resistant strains of malaria could jeopardize important recent gains in control of the disease.
There are high proportions of antibiotic resistance (ABR) in bacteria that cause common infections (e.g. urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bloodstream infections) in all regions of the world. A high percentage of hospital-acquired infections are caused by highly resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus(MRSA) or multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria.
Treatment failures due to resistance to treatments of last resort for gonorrhoea (third-generation cephalosporins) have now been reported from 10 countries. Gonorrhoea may soon become untreatable as no vaccines or new drugs are in development.
Patients with infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria are generally at increased risk of worse clinical outcomes and death, and consume more healthcare resources than patients infected with the same bacteria that are not resistant.