Antimicrobial Resistance Vaccines
19, Nov 2022
Prelims level : Medicine and Pharmaceuticals Mains level : GS-II Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Why in News?
- Poor animal health in factory farming can negatively affect food safety, our environment and climate, leading to Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
What are the Issues?
- Factory farming or intensive food-animal farming is the intense and confined farming of animals such as pigs, cows, and birds. They are industrial facilities that raise large numbers of animals, mostly indoors, in conditions intended to maximise production at a minimal cost.
- The suffering of animals within farms around the world is too often overlooked or seen to be separate from the big issues such as pandemics and the public health crisis, climate change and biodiversity loss, food insecurity and malnutrition.
- In reality, this can exacerbate the global problems as well as causing immense cruelty to billions of animals.
- Producing more than 50 billion factory-farmed land animals each year to satisfy growing demand for cheap meat requires using breeds of genetically uniform animals squashed together, creating an ideal breeding ground for disease that can jump to humans.
- When diseases jump from one species to another, they often become more infectious and cause more serious illness and death, leading to global pandemics.
- Bird flu and swine flu are two key examples where new strains constantly emerge from intensively farmed animals.
- However, there is an addition to this list — Antimicrobial Resistance which is overlooked among these big issues.
- The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms leads to superbugs that spread to workers, the environment and into the food chain.
- Factory farms, characterised by substandard husbandry practices and poor animal welfare, drive the increased use of antimicrobials, and are connected to the emergence of AMR alongside a range of zoonotic pathogens.
What is AMR?
- Antimicrobial resistance is the resistance acquired by any microorganism (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasite, etc.) against antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics) that are used to treat infections.
- As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.
- Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified AMR as one of the top ten threats to global health.
Reasons for Spread of AMR:
- The misuse of antimicrobials in medicine and inappropriate use in agriculture.
- Contamination around pharmaceutical manufacturing sites where untreated waste releases large amounts of active antimicrobials into the environment.
What Initiatives have been taken by the Government to Prevent AMR?
- AMR Surveillance and Research Network (AMRSN) was launched in 2013, to generate evidence and capture trends and patterns of drug resistant infections in the country.
- The National Action Plan on AMR focuses on One Health approach and was launched in April 2017 with the aim of involving various stakeholder ministries/departments.
- ICMR along with Research Council of Norway (RCN) initiated a joint call for research in antimicrobial resistance in 2017.
- ICMR along with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany has a joint Indo-German collaboration for research on AMR.
- ICMR has initiated Antibiotic Stewardship Program (AMSP) on a pilot project across India to control misuse and overuse of antibiotics in hospital wards and ICUs.
Recommendation by WHO:
- Equitable and global access to the vaccines that already exist
- Disruptive approaches are needed: The lessons from COVID 19 vaccine development and mRNA vaccines offer unique opportunities to explore for development of vaccines against bacteria
- Need to overcome challenges: Such as pathogens associated with hospital-acquired infections (HAI), difficulty in defining target population(s) among all admitted hospital patients; the cost and complexity of vaccine efficacy trials; and the lack of regulatory and/or policy precedent for vaccines against HAIs.
- Easier regulatory requirement: Vaccine development is expensive, and scientifically challenging, and is associated with high failure rates, and therefore, the need for support from the government and private sector.