The rapid spread of COVID-19 has proven the potential speed at which any virus and or disease can quickly spread worldwide. Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic is still continuing. We are constantly battling the virus in one form or the other, as several variants are already coming into existence. To date, though, there remains hardly any evidence of the endemic ending. Not only COVID-19 but also several other health-related extortions might cause many threats to human health in multiple ways. Therefore, proper attention is required to remain abreast of the actual cause and prevention of the health threat—or else the next pandemic might arise with this cause.
What is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)?
Among all the serious health threats, one of the major global health threats is Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which requires urgent action or else the prime question may arise “Can antimicrobial resistance be a cause of next pandemic.”
The substance that controls, inhibits or kills the growth of bacteria is called Antibiotics. They act as a defence against a broad range of bacterial infections in human bodies, which are untreatable on their own. Antibiotics are considered one of the safest and most effective treatments for the various ailments that might affect us. However, some bacteria have the features to remain able to defend themselves against the antibiotics. Such bacteria might possibly mutate or acquire new genes and become even more robust and resistant to antibiotics. Such scenario is usually termed antimicrobial resistance or AMR.
In antimicrobial resistance, bacteria will be controlled when antibiotics are taken; hence, bacteria get killed. But very few forms of bacteria can survive. Those are called resistant bacteria. These sort of bacteria can persist even after consuming antibiotics, and in a few cases, they can also multiply in their number. Hence too much dosage and overuse of antibiotics might possibly increase the chances of bacteria becoming resistant to the antibiotics.
Accordingly, antibiotics cannot work against harmful bacteria and demolish the bacteria responsible for the disease. There are no specific causes for drug-resistant bacteria or even antimicrobial resistance. It can affect or infect anyone and anywhere. Irrespective of the person’s age, overall health, having good physical fitness or not, there are ample chances of such bacterial attacks. Over the past several years, there has been a rapid growth observed in the antimicrobial resistance, a clear sign of an upcoming pandemic. This growth is because our existing broad range of antibiotics are unable and might not be able to fight against various bacterial infections.
Causes and How to Control AMR
When bacteria, fungi or viruses invade our body, and they won’t respond to any antibiotics or medicines, thereby making the disease or infections harder to treat. Such condition is termed Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in the Medical & Scientific terminology. Such condition may also increase the spread of illness, more extended hospital stay, severe illness, and also death in several cases.
Based on various ongoing research studies, some possible causes of AMR are easily identified. Over-populated areas with poor sanitary facilities and water quality would perhaps be the most notable and prominent hotspot for AMR cases. Based on the WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations for all the countries, it has also designed the national action plans for specific regional areas. Scientists and professors researching such conditions also stated adopting a more appropriate and conventional method to use antibiotics to stop the increase of bacterial resistance as it is the need of the hour. If proper care on the usage of antibiotics is not taken correctly along with suitable hygienic conditions, “the next pandemic might be worse.” The world should remain prepared to such predicted pathetic conditions, if failing to prepare.
Also, another foremost step to control antimicrobial resistance is that using fewer antibiotics is a vital factor to reduce resistance. But even though the use of fewer antibiotics might not correct the AMR issue, providing proper sanitation, improving hygienic conditions, and good water quality at the global scale will be much more helpful. The above said combined approaches are recommended by WHO globally on AMR.
Causes for Next Pandemic, If AMR is Not Controlled
Several other scientists have further suggested that “one of the best ways to fight against antibiotic resistance is to know the pathway and act which leads to it.”It elaborately states the possible factors of what enhances waste management and improves water quality and sanitation worldwide, particularly in emerging countries.If the above control measures are not taken properly, antimicrobial resistance might increase rapidly, which will be the potential cause of the next pandemic.
Along with personal effects on health because of AMR such as more extended hospital stay, death, prolonged illness, disability, more expenditure for medicines and hospitalization are other potentialities. There are various adverse impacts on our communities and countries worldwide. For every country and globally, antimicrobial-resistant infections are already raising healthcare expenditures; hence, controlling and fighting against AMR is the only option as a major respite.
Steps to be Taken to Control AMR
• Globally, if we can achieve better hygienic facilities, proper sanitary conditions, and reasonable access to clean water, our dependence on various antibiotics will gradually decrease. There will be potential chances of controlling AMR.
• Healthcare professionals should take initiatives and measures very seriously, and let the public know the exact root cause and controlling measures of AMR. Also, they need to explain effective antibiotics to the patients.
• Political leaders should also take the lead in addressing AMR. They should take steps to rectify the challenges that poor people face regarding proper sanitary conditions access and access to clean water.
• Another significant step to fight against AMR is to preserve the antibiotics capable of curing diseases and fighting against infections effectively.
Finally, the answer of the vital question “can antimicrobial resistance be a cause of the next pandemic?” states “Yes”. The combined approach will be helpful and required to fight against AMR, careful use of antibiotics in people, knowing the exact cause of the infection, maintaining proper sanitary and hygienic conditions will collaboratively fight against AMR in a very effective way.