During the past seven decades, antimicrobial agents have saved millions of lives, substantially reduced the burden of diseases that were previously widespread and improved the quality of life as well as helped increase life expectancy. In the recent past, emergence and spread of resistance in several microorganisms has rendered the management of many infectious diseases difficult. The development of resistance to drugs commonly used to treat malaria, TB and HIV is of particular concern and an impediment in achieving the related Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Resistance to antimicrobials is a natural and inevitable biological phenomenon that can be amplified or accelerated by a variety of factors and practices that facilitate “selective pressure”. The selection pressure is
highest when antimicrobials are used irrationally in the health and veterinary sectors. The consequences of resistance are severe. Infections caused by resistant microbes fail to respond to treatment, resulting in prolonged illness and
greater risk of death. Treatment failures also lead to longer periods of infectivity,
which increase the number of infected people moving in the community and thus expose the general population to the risk of contracting a resistant strain of infection. It is also a threat to patient safety due to the rapidly growing
pandemic of antimicrobial resistance.
The prevention and containment of resistance has a common approach and requires integrated and well coordinated efforts at the national level. It is a biological, behavioural, technical, economic, regulatory and educational problem, and requires a comprehensive response employing an evidence based strategy. Accordingly, the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia has developed a Regional Strategy which is simple and practical, can be adapted by Member countries, and acceptable to multiple stakeholders. It is believed that it shall act as a powerful tool to prevent negation of the progress made in the field of communicable diseases. The Regional Strategy aims to comprehensively address interventions involving the introduction of legislation and policies governing the use of antimicrobial agents, establish laboratory-based networks for the surveillance of resistance, and assure rational use of these drugs at all levels
of health-care settings. It also advocates ownership and active participation by several stakeholders...