The Evolving Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance: Options for Action
(2012; 125 pages)

Abstract

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is not a recent phenomenon, but it is a critical health issue today. Over several decades, to varying degrees, bacteria causing common infections have developed resistance to each new antibiotic, and AMR has evolved to become a worldwide health threat. With a dearth of new antibiotics coming to market, the need for action to avert a developing global crisis in health care is increasingly urgent.

In addition to a substantial financial burden that national health-care budgets can ill afford, AMR has economic consequences far beyond the health sector, such as damaging repercussions on international travel and trade resulting from the crossborder spread of resistant infections. The cost of not acting against AMR needs to be considered when deciding resource allocation and assessing interventions.

We know how and why AMR develops, what factors favour its emergence and spread, and what measures can be taken to limit it. Why then are we now facing an impending crisis in the treatment of many infections? This book describes the context of the problem, some of the progress made in recent years to tackle it, and what more should be done. Without question, more information and new tools are needed, but available strategies and interventions can go a long way towards minimizing the scale and impact of AMR, and maximizing the effective lifespan of existing antibiotics. Much more could be achieved by better and more widespread application of these measures, and there are many promising opportunities for innovation in this area.

Infections which are increasingly resistant to antibiotics together account for a heavy disease burden, often affecting developing countries disproportionately. The use of vast quantities of antibiotics in food-producing animals adds another dimension to a complex situation. Several sectors and services are involved and each, from public health to animal husbandry, has an important role to play in counteracting AMR. Responsibility needs to be shared, and coordination of the separate necessary inputs requires determined leadership, additional resources, and solid commitment at many levels.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has long recognized AMR as a growing global health threat, and the World Health Assembly, through several resolutions over two decades, has called upon Member States and the international community to take measures to curtail the emergence and spread of AMR. The WHO Global Strategy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance, published in 2001, set out a comprehensive set of recommendations for AMR control which remain valid today. This book examines the experiences with implementing some of those recommendations ten years on, the lessons learnt along the way and the remaining gaps. On World Heath Day 2011, WHO again highlighted AMR and urged countries to commit to a comprehensive financed national plan to combat AMR, engaging all principal stakeholders including civil society...

 
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