The World Health Organization has defined antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antiviral drugs, antifungals and antiparasitic drugs – as medicines used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants.
The organization explained that antimicrobial resistance arises when there are changes in bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites over time. They become less responsive to drugs, which makes infections more difficult to treat and increases the risk of disease, severe illness and death spread.
The organization added that resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs becomes ineffective due to drug resistance, and infections are becoming increasingly difficult or impossible to treat.
The World Health Organization stated that the ability to treat common infections is still threatened by the emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens that create new resistance mechanisms that lead to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. Of particular concern is the rapid global spread of bacteria that are resistant to several or all of them – also known as “intractable germs” – which cause infections that cannot be treated with the current antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics.
And the organization noted, that it has identified 32 antibiotics under clinical development to treat pathogens included in the organization’s priority pathogens list, of which only six are classified as innovative. All levels of development lack antibiotic supplies, particularly in health care systems.
She indicated that the loss of antibiotic action is increasing in light of the spread of drug resistance at the global level, which results in an increase in the difficulty of treating infections and death. What creates an urgent need for new antibacterial agents – for example to treat carbapenem-resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections, similar to what is specified in the WHO priority pathogens list, but if people do not change the way they use antibiotics now, the fate of these new antibiotics will be the same. The fate of existing antibiotics, and thus they will lose their effect.
The organization stressed that national economies and their health systems incur huge costs due to antimicrobial resistance that affects the productivity of patients or their caregivers by prolonging the length of hospitalization of patients and the need to provide them with more expensive and focused care.
And she stressed that the number of people whose treatment fails or dies will increase due to infections, unless effective tools are provided to prevent and treat drug-resistant infections as they should, and the availability of existing and new antimicrobials improves with guaranteed quality. Likewise, the risks of medical procedures such as surgeries, including cesarean sections, hip replacement, cancer chemotherapy and organ transplants will be exacerbated.
She revealed that antimicrobial resistance appears naturally with the passage of time through genetic changes that usually occur, explaining that antimicrobial resistance exists in humans, animals, food, plants and the environment – in water, soil and air – and can be transmitted from one person to another or between ranks of people and herds of animals , Including animal source foods.
The organization pointed out that the main drivers for the emergence of this resistance include misuse and overuse of antimicrobials. The lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services for both humans and animals; Weak infection and disease prevention and control in health care facilities and on farms; Insufficient access to good and affordable medicines, vaccines and diagnostics; Lack of awareness and knowledge; Lack of enforcement of legislation.