Health experts are warning that anti-microbial resistance or AMR might become the next global health emergency after the COVID pandemic.
The World Health Organization has likened AMR to a “slow-moving tsunami that is crumbling the pillars of modern medicine” and giving an ever-increasing threat to global public health.
In the case of the Philippines, WHO country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said 20,000 Filipinos have developed drug-resistant tuberculosis in 2020.
“AMR makes the disease more difficult to treat, making people sicker and increasing burden to health services,” Abeyasinghe said last week. He urged necessary action to be taken immediately to prevent AMR from becoming the next public health emergency.
“To preserve the health gains of the past century, we will need to take collective and coordinated action. We must act now to prevent drug-resistant infections from becoming the next global public health emergency,” he said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III urged stakeholders across all sectors to raise awareness about this looming threat of AMR among Filipino families, workplaces, institutions and communities in order to mitigate the unintended long term consequences associated with antibiotic overuse and avoid a future AMR pandemic.
Preventing such a disaster will depend on how the public and private sector promotes a change in behavior among Filipinos who are vulnerable to becoming irresponsible users of antibiotic drugs which is the primary cause of the rise of anti-microbial resistance. Promoting and encouraging the prudent and rational use of antimicrobials will be key to stopping AMR from becoming an unstoppable problem if it succeeds in making diseases that were previously treatable by medicine much more difficult to treat.
People who use antibiotics without prescriptions and those who do not follow the dosage regimen prescribed by doctors are the main culprits in the rise of AMR. Such practices may seem harmless but because the improper use of antibiotic drugs unfortunately allows diseases to develop resistance those drugs, the long-term consequences could prove dire.
The nightmare of an explosion of drug resistant diseases can be preventable if we act before it is too late. While the world’s doctors and scientists will have to do the heavy lifting if this does happen, what we do now will have a bigger impact in stopping this potential pandemic from breaking out.*