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Drug-resistant diseases could kill 10 million a year by 2050

Topic covered:

Issues related to health.


Drug-resistant diseases could kill 10 million a year by 2050


What to study?

For prelims: what are drug resistant diseases and how do they become drug resistant?

For mains: concerns associated, effects and what needs to be done?


Context: UN Ad Hoc Interagency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance has warned that Drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050.


Key findings:

  • By 2030, antimicrobial resistance could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty.
  • Currently, at least 7,00,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases, including 2,30,000 people who die from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
  • More and more common diseases, including respiratory tract infections, sexually transmitted infections and urinary tract infections, are becoming untreatable; lifesaving medical procedures are becoming riskier, and food systems are getting increasingly precarious.


What needs to be done?

Without investment from countries in all income brackets, future generations will face the disastrous impacts of uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance. Countries need to prioritise national action plans to scale-up financing and capacity-building efforts.

Countries must put in place stronger regulatory systems and support awareness programs for responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials by professionals in human, animal and plant health and invest in ambitious research and development for new technologies to combat antimicrobial resistance.


What is it?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.

The term is used in the context of resistance that pathogens or cancers have “acquired”, that is, resistance has evolved.

When an organism is resistant to more than one drug, it is said to be multidrug-resistant.


Why is antimicrobial resistance a global concern?

New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.

Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very high risk.

Antimicrobial resistance increases the cost of health care with lengthier stays in hospitals and more intensive care required.

Antimicrobial resistance is putting the gains of the Millennium Development Goals at risk and endangers achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.


Sources: The Hindu.