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Antimicrobial Resistance: Causes And Consequences [Infographic]

By Aditya Rana, Dec 13, 2023

Long before Covid-19 normalized etched pandemics into our psyche and vocabulary, another silent pandemic had been spreading.

While terms like superbugs and antibiotic resistance never made the global headlines, they were and still are a serious concern. Why?

Well, each year, 1.27 million die due to antimicrobial resistance.

This is worrying. Just imagine the next time you get an infection and the pill you always relied on no longer works and the condition becomes life-threatening. Scary thought isn’t it?

How is any of this possible? Antimicrobial resistance.

Let’s understand this global health threat better.

What is antimicrobial resistance and what causes it?

Antimicrobial resistance is when microorganisms, like bacteria, fungi, and viruses, become resistant to drugs designed to kill or control them.

In other words, it means reduced efficacy or complete loss of efficacy of antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals against resistant microorganisms.

Misuse and/or overuse of antimicrobials are common causes of resistance.

what causes antimicrobial resistance infographic

Global impact of antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistances affects the entire world, but some regions face a greater threat.

Generally, areas with higher levels of antimicrobial resistance are those where antibiotics are easily accessible, frequently used, or places with less robust healthcare systems.

Besides people, this impacts the healthcare system too.

Antimicrobial resistances leads to outcomes such as prolonged hospital stays and increased mortality, all of which add burden on healthcare systems.

antimicrobial resistance global impact infographic

A timeline of the rise of antimicrobial resistance

From the 2000s onwards, the number of documented cases of antimicrobial resistance grew to over 90,000+.

Examples of strains that exhibited increased resistance during this time include Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus (including MRSA), and Streptococcus pneumoniae.

However, in recent years, there has been a drop in cases, potentially due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and factors like increased awareness and antibiotic stewardship efforts.

Lockdowns, social distancing, and improved hygiene practices may have indirectly affected the rates of AMR for specific pathogens but it doesn’t imply the problem is over.

antimicrobial resistance over the years infographic

How does antimicrobial resistance compare to other health threats?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared AMR as a top 10 global public health threat.

Others in the list include HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, influenza, and require close attention and monitoring. Though AMR doesn’t rank as highly in terms of threat as these other diseases, it shouldn’t be ignored either.

antimicrobial resistance vs other threats infographic

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About Aditya Rana

Adi is a word slinger and loves to fiddle around with SaaS. When not living online, you'll find him outside in nature with a book.