Globally, infectious diseases kill 11 million people annually, 95% of whom live in resource constrained countries. The major life saving intervention for infectious diseases is antimicrobial treatment.
However, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is rapidly reducing effectiveness of these life-saving medicines. The problem has rendered many first line treatments ineffective. This is impacting on all infectious diseases including HIV, TB Malaria, pneumonia, neonatal sepsis among others.
In May 2009, EPN and ReAct launched a Campaign Fight AMR – Save medicines for our children intended to stimulate both global and local actors to take concrete action to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR). During the launch at the 62nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, a worried microbiologist from Makerere University Uganda, Dr Florence Najjuka, presented the most shocking data on the consequences of Antimicrobial Resistance. In her study of patients at the Mulago Hospital, Kampala, Uganda, almost half (28 of 62) of patients could not be treated with available antibiotics due to resistance against these medicines. 86% of these patients were newborns. "A significant number of these babies died" says Dr Florence Najjuka. "10 years ago these lives could have been saved, but today the remaining treatment options are way too costly for most parents".
There are gaps in knowledge, but there is evidence demonstrating that it is possible and cost-effective to intervene early in this developing problem. A multifaceted approach is needed to address the many dimensions of this problem as resistance within a wide range of microbes is emerging not only in hospitalized population, but also in human communities and food animal production businesses.
Recognizing that it is impossible to prevent 100% of infections, both community-acquired and hospital-associated, it is important to develop strategies that slow the development of drug resistance. Unless concerted and comprehensive action is taken, valuable agents will continue to be lost leading to higher costs of health care and higher levels of morbidity and mortality associated with infectious diseases.
Many of our members have been involved in country level activities to raise awareness and educate on effective strategies to contain further development of resistance. We hope you will be inspired to take an action and Save medicines for our children !
In this issue:
- Antimicrobial Resistance: The Malawi Experience
- Setting up an Infection Control System
- Fighting Antimicrobial Resistance in Dentistry