Getting sick without a cure??


Ever thought what would happen if your antibiotic pills do not answer to your simple virus fever? You might get up after few days if your immunity system conquers the invader. What if our enemy is too powerful that we can’t fight back without the help of our known antibiotic dose? Even though I don’t like to mention it, we all know the consequence; we are DEAD.

With the discovery of Penicillin in 1928, the great scientist Alexander Fleming embarked a new era in Immunology. People were no longer afraid of widespread epidemics that turned villages and towns into graveyards, as before. Step by step, new discoveries emerged. Whenever bacteria or virus took control over us, antibiotics became our guardians. We were quite satisfied about the protection provided by the antibiotics and we became totally dependent on them. This was evidently seen, when the records indicated that the global consumption of antibiotics had risen by 40% within  2000 – 2010. But we never asked the question, ‘what affects might the prolonged usage of antibiotics bring to us?’ But time has brought the answer to our unsought question; antimicrobial resistance.


What is antimicrobial resistance (AMR)?

Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of a microorganism (bacteria, virus etc.)  to stop  an antimicrobial compound (such as antibiotic, antiviral or antimalarial) from working against it. In simple it is the disease causing organism being resistant to the drug we provide, making the standard treatment a failure.

This antimicrobial resistance is either inherent or acquired by the microbial populations. In most cases microorganisms acquire the resistance under heavy antimicrobial pressure, as a gene mutation. Organisms with the mutation get selected via natural selection and mutation will be transferred through conjugation and transduction.

The effects of antimicrobial resistance.

“The lack of effective antibiotics is as serious as a security threat as a sudden and deathly disease outbreak “  Dr.Tedros  Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO

This situation can cause all our currently available drugs for certain diseases to go ineffective making ourselves to face the sickness without a treatment.  If you still didn’t get the depth of it, just imagine the world which existed before the discovery of Penicillin; the world that caused population to drop by huge fractions in an epidemic outbreak, the world where people ran away from the victims of a disease , even from their own family members, leaving them to a helpless death.  We are heading back to that world, unless we find solutions to have a U-turn.

Tuberculosis, which is responsible for about 250, 000 deaths per year, is raising its head again by means of antimicrobial resistance. Drug resistance is complicating the fight against HIV and Malaria. In many African countries, HIV and Malaria co-morbidity is already observed. Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease is becoming more difficult, sometimes even impossible to treat in many countries.  These are few example cases for the emerging antimicrobial resistance.

Global level action plan for AMR.

AMR is a worldwide concern that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. General public need to be aware about the threat we are about to face.

WHO had taken many initiative steps to overcome the uprising conditions.  Their global action plan includes awareness programs, training sessions, national level action plans, web consultations etc.  WHO invites all the scientists for greater innovations in new antimicrobial medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic tools.

How can we contribute?

Even though it’s natural that resistance is built for drugs over time, misuse and overuse of drugs can accelerate it. It is our responsibility to consume antibiotics under the prescription of valid physician. We must take care not to misuse or overuse drugs letting immunity systems to go weak and allowing microbes to acquire the resistance.



We categorized cancer as a lethal disease condition and influenza as a normal disease condition based on our ability to heal it. But if we fail to answer the antimicrobial resistance , we are heading to a future where normal influenza can cause more deaths than cancers do.

Deaths attributable to AMR every year by 2050



Inspired by a lecture on antimicrobial resistance by Dr. C.M. Nanayakkara

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