The challenge of antimicrobial resistance that causes a large number of deaths due to treatable infections has emerged as a new challenge before the health researchers. Antimicrobial resistance(AMR) is the cause behind several deaths caused by treatable diseases like lower respiratory and bloodstream infections as the bacteria that causes the disease has become resistant to treatment. A study conducted by the Lancet journal covering more than 204 countries has found that more than 12 lakh people died in 2019 due to the result of AMR which is several times higher than the deaths caused by HIV/AIDS or malaria, the Indian Express reported.
The Lancet research analysed the deaths linked to 23 pathogens and 88 pathogen-drug combinations. The study found that more than 12 lakh deaths would not have taken place directly if the infection had not become resistant to drugs. In addition to the 12 lakh deaths directly linked to the problem of AMR, the study found that another 49 lakh people died due to causes that are linked to AMR but the patients did not die directly of AMR but other problems.
Excessive use of antibiotics in Coronavirus pandemic
Dr Kamini Walia, programme officer, AMR, at Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) told the Indian Express that lots of antibiotics are being used in an irrational manner during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Dr Walia further said that study had shown that COvid-19 patients acquired drug resistant infections in hospitals and A study reported by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) from 10 hospitals showed that when Covid patients acquired drug-resistant infections in hospitals the mortality increased by 50-60 percent.
Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (US) told the Indian Express that azithromycin was routinely prescribed for all Coronavirus patients even though there is no evidence that it was helpful. Dr Laxminarayan further said that the absolute disregard for the life saving antibiotics may come back to haunt in future when these drugs are needed to fight against bacterial infections.
Why Lancet study is significant
It is one of the first studies that we have the number of patients who have died due to AMR, Dr Walia said. He further said that there have been attempts to record such deaths even in India but that is challenging as the deaths are not reported to have been caused by AMR. Dr Walia further said that in the absence of such data, it is very difficult for the health professionals to nudge the government and policy makers to come up with a substantial solution to the problem.