BANGKOK, Nov. 17: In anticipation of World Antibiotic Awareness Week (18-24 November) the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Summit Expert Group and the Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) Working Group convened in Bangkok, Thailand, in a first-ever regional effort to combat the 'silent tsunami' of antimicrobial resistance. At the Joint Asia Pacific AMR Summit-AMS Working Group Meeting, which took place over the weekend of 26-27 October, 17 leaders from clinical microbiology, infection control, infectious disease and critical care societies in Asia Pacific made actionable plans to empower governments, hospital administrators, healthcare professionals and the public to address this epidemic. It is projected that by 2050, annually more than 4.7 million people in the Asia Pacific will die from infections previously curable by antibiotics, representing the highest projected death toll globally.The economic burden and strain on local healthcare systems would be equally astronomical.
Factors unique to the Asia Pacific (including environmental, socio-economic, agricultural, geographic and demographic) mean the region acts as an epicenter for antimicrobial resistance that impacts healthcare systems., Home to 60% of the world's population, many of the region's low- and middle-income countries also have less stringent healthcare policies, and antibiotics are often easily available. In Thailand alone, more than US 170 million was spent on antibiotics in 2010, and at least 88,000 infections were antimicrobial-resistant, resulting in at least 3.24 million additional days in the hospital, and 38,000 deaths. To address this, the AMR Summit Expert Group, united leaders from 14 medical societies/organizations, is joined by the AMS Working Group, which is dedicated to improve the quality of antimicrobial stewardship in Asia through tailored initiatives, such as the development of the region's first AMS Blueprint and specialized antimicrobial stewardship training to resource-constrained hospitals.
Antimicrobial resistance happens when microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, develop the ability to stop an antimicrobial - or multiple antimicrobials from working against it. As a result, infections can grow, and even spread to others.
The misuse and overuse of antibiotics is accelerating the process of antimicrobial resistance beyond the speed of medical research. This means that common illness, such as a minor wound, and simple surgeries, such as Cesarean-section, tonsillectomy, may become life-threatening once again, similar to the pre-antibiotic era. Moreover, modern medical treatments, such as cancer therapy, organ transplantation and joint replacement, cannot be done without effective antibiotics.
Professor Cheng-Hsun Chiu, co-chairperson of the meeting, emphasized the importance of combined efforts between local governments, hospital administrators, and pharmaceutical companies to drive public awareness, and practice and policy change. "A long-term solution involves public education, but healthcare professionals also need to be re-educated about proper antibiotic practices. We also need decision-makers and leaders at a government and institutional level to champion and drive initiatives on antimicrobial stewardship, surveillance, diagnostics and access to novel antimicrobial agents." For the first time ever at the Joint Asia Pacific AMR Summit-AMS Working Group Meeting, experts from national medical societies in the Asia Pacific collectively recommend 12 core interventions to promote the success of antimicrobial stewardship (Table). "Every government, stakeholder and responsible personnel can use the 12 core interventions as a checklist to ensure essential interventions for antimicrobial stewardship are met, as part of the commitment to combat antimicrobial resistance," said Dr. Pisonthi Chongtrakul from Thailand's National Strategic Plan on AMR.
The Joint Asia Pacific AMR Summit-AMS Working Group Meeting marks the beginning of an ongoing regional commitment to work towards a world with no unnecessary deaths due to antimicrobial resistance.