Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has emerged as one of the principal public health problems of the 21st century. This has resulted in a public health crisis of global concern, which threatens the practice of modern medicine, animal health and food security.
The global nature of AMR calls for a global response, both in the geographic sense and across the whole range of sectors involved. Nobody is exempt from the problem, nor from playing a role in the solution.
The impact of AMR worldwide is significant, because it may:
- lead to some infections becoming untreatable;
- lead to inappropriate empirical treatment in critically ill patients where an appropriate and prompt treatment is mandatory;
- lncrease length of hospital stay, morbidity, mortality and cost; and
- make necessary alternative antimicrobials which are more toxic, less effective, or more expensive.
At the Sixty-eight World Health Assembly in May 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed a global action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance, the most urgent drug resistance trend. To achieve this goal, the global action plan sets out five strategic objectives:
- to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance;
- to strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research;
- to reduce the incidence of infection;
- to optimize the use of antimicrobial agents; and
- develop the economic case for sustainable investment that takes account of the needs of all countries, and increase investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions.
New mechanisms of resistance continue to emerge and spread globally, threatening our ability to treat common infections. An effective and cost-effective strategy to reduce AMR should involve a multi-faceted approach aimed at optimizing antibiotic use, strengthening surveillance and infection prevention and control and improving patient and clinician education and awareness regarding the appropriate use of antibiotics.
Combating resistance should become a global priority, for policy makers and public health authorities, for health organizations, for scientific societies, for all hospitals worldwide, for all healthcare workers and for pharmaceutical companies that should invest in research into new antibiotics and in an ethical and proper collaboration with physicians supporting educational events.