Prelims level : Superbugs Mains level : Biotechnology
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Why in News?

  • U.N. Interagency Coordination Group (IACG) report on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) calls for greater action by stakeholders at all levels lest so-called “superbugs” claim 10 million lives a year.

What are Superbugs?

  • Superbugs is a term used to describe strains of bacteria that are resistant to the majority of antibiotics commonly used today.
  • Resistant bacteria that cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections and skin infections are just a few of the dangers we now face.
  • AMR is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial drug (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.

Report findings:

  • Alarming levels of resistance have been reported in countries of all income levels, with the result that common diseases are becoming untreatable, and lifesaving medical procedures are riskier to perform.
  • The problem is not limited to low and middle-income countries, it is global in its reach.
  • In high-income countries alone, 2.4 million people could die between 2015 and 2050 due to antimicrobial drug resistance, which is being exacerbated by the abuse and overuse of existing antimicrobials agents such as antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal as well as antiprotozoal drugs.
  • There is also problem of inequity and lack of affordable access, which the report links to the deaths of nearly 6 million people annually, including a million children who die of preventable sepsis and pneumonia.
  • The economic damage of uncontrolled AMR could be comparable to the shocks experienced during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis as a result of dramatically.
  • increased healthcare expenditures; impact on food and feed production, trade and livelihoods; and increased poverty and inequality.


  • The report recognizes that antimicrobials are critical to safeguard food production, safety and trade, as well as human and animal health, and it clearly promotes responsible use across sectors.
  • To stop the use of antimicrobials for growth promotion in healthy animals, increased investment in new antimicrobials, improved waste management tools, and the development of alternatives to antimicrobials.
  • Preparing and implementing national antimicrobial resistance action plans is the first step towards tackling the drug resistance, but there is a need to address the financing and capacity constraints faced by many resource-poor countries.
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