Combating Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

GS-2 Maiins

Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Question : Analyze the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), including its causes, scale, and impact on public health and healthcare systems.


What is AMR?

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing global threat where microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites become resistant to drugs designed to kill them.
  • This renders the medications ineffective in treating infections they cause.

Causes of AMR

  • Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and plants.
    • In India, hospitals often lack effective infection prevention methods, leading to overuse of antibiotics.
    • Use of antimicrobials in agriculture to promote animal growth or prevent diseases in unsanitary conditions contributes to AMR.

Scale of the Problem

  • Leading cause of death:
    • Globally, AMR is responsible for 1.27 million deaths annually, including 1 in 5 deaths in children under five (mostly in low- and middle-income countries).
    • In India, nearly 300,000 deaths were attributed to AMR in 2019.
  • Threat to modern medicine:
    • AMR jeopardizes the effectiveness of surgeries, caesarean sections, cancer chemotherapy, and other procedures due to the risk of untreatable infections.
  • Life expectancy and economic impact:
    • If unchecked, AMR could reduce life expectancy by 1.8 years by 2035 and lead to substantial healthcare costs and economic losses.
    • The World Bank estimates a potential cost of $1 trillion in additional healthcare expenditure and $1-3.4 trillion in GDP losses annually by 2030 due to AMR.

Measures to Combat AMR

  • Preventing Infections:
    • Implement effective infection prevention and control practices (hand hygiene, environmental cleaning, patient isolation).
  • Improving Antibiotic Use:
    • Promote appropriate use of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and plants. Discourage misuse and overuse.
  • Data and Tracking Systems:
    • Establish robust systems to monitor resistance patterns, guide prevention strategies, and report results globally.
  • Laboratory Capacity:
    • Enhance lab capacity to identify resistant bacteria for early detection and reporting.
  • Research and Development:
    • Invest in research for new and existing vaccines, diagnostics, and medicines.
    • Collaborate globally to develop new drugs, diagnostics, and interventions.
  • Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative (CDC):
    • A global initiative to improve antibiotic use, track resistance, and implement infection control activities.

India Specific Measures

  • National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR):
    • A One Health approach involving various ministries to address AMR.
  • AMR Surveillance and Research Network (ICMR):
    • Tracks and analyzes trends of drug-resistant infections in India.
  • Antibiotic Stewardship Program (ICMR):
    • A pilot project to control antibiotic misuse and overuse in hospitals.


  • AMR requires a unified global response with continued research and development for new solutions.
  • Equitable access to existing and future vaccines, diagnostics, and medicines is crucial.
  • The fight against AMR demands collective action on personal, local, national, and global levels.

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