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AMR Awareness in Developing Nations

AMR (antimicrobial resistance) has become an urgent global health  concern of recent times . The crisis is taking its toll over mankind throughout the globe may it be developed or developing part of the world. The healthcare professionals and related organisations throughout the world are in consensus and have agreed that AMR  is one of the top 10 global health crises (as declared by WHO) which if ignored will slowly take the world backward to the era where even day to day infections were fatal and untreatable.

But the question arises that though the buzz is too loud in developed part of the world , what about the developing and underdeveloped nations? To what extent in these nations the  general public is actually aware about the impact of surging problem of AMR ? And if yes, to what extent do they know that even slight ignorance in their day-to-day health practices adds on to this soaring problem?

Most of the surveys done in developing parts of the world where the issue is even more aggressive due to unjustified and inappropriate use of antibiotics show that the general public is not well aware of the problem and has lots of misconceptions about it. A multi-country survey conducted by the WHO in 12 developing countries in 2015 revealed widespread public misunderstanding about antibiotic resistance.* In most of  these nations though initiatives have been taken by government and related health bodies in running campaigns to enlighten citizens about the rising threat of AMR, very few of them have been successful in serving the purpose. As a result the rate of AMR ignorance is still very high in developing nations. A recent research done in China in 2019 revealed that despite vigorous efforts the government faces difficult challenges in overcoming public misconceptions regarding antimicrobial use.*

The governments and related health bodies in such countries need to introspect why they are failing to reach the ground level and why the similar awareness campaigns run by global health body ,WHO have much higher success rate in developed nations unlike developing countries.   They need to realise that the main challenge lies in low literacy rate and ignorance of citizens and has to be countered to make AMR campaigns a success.

The key strategy for a successful campaign  in such nations should be effective communication in a very simple way which can be easily accepted by the local population. An AMR general awareness campaign in developing countries for increased effectiveness should revolve  around:

  • Highlighting the issue of AMR in easy, straight forward explanation that coherently connects to the human role in the issue.
  • Emphasizing on how the issue is sabotaging the current modern medicine practice to make general public aware about the current and future threats of AMR and its consequences
  • Focussing more on  current issues involving AMR rather than the long term  future threats to justify immediate call of action
  • Guiding people on not going for the self medication to avoid the unnecessary load of antibiotics in cases of infections like flu and viral fevers which are one of the most common ailments involved in unnecessary use of antibiotics
  • Educating public on complying with the prescription guidelines of the physicians and completing the full course of antibiotic treatments as per the instructions
  • Curbing the use of  “Over The Counter”(OTC) availability of antibiotics which are freely sold in  developing nations as they are one of the most significant reasons behind AMR. The public has to be guided against the unprescribed use of these antibiotics which may be cheaper in price but the expense of health in the long term is too high.
  • Motivating the doctors to spend adequate time especially in case of  ignorant patients to brief regarding the necessity of appropriate compliance of prescriptions.

It is high time to realise that AMR is not a region specific problem but a global issue which needs to be addressed actively in every part of the world and all nations need to go hand in hand to combat this global threat. Unlike developed countries , many of the  developing nations may not be able to afford the cost for Antimicrobial Stewardship programmes and tools but wisely devising general AMR awareness campaigns focussed on above mentioned few basic points can definitely help them in fighting the AMR problems to their best.

References*

  1. WHO multi-country survey reveals widespread public misunderstanding about antibiotic resistance (https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/16-11-2015-who-multi-country-survey-reveals-widespread-public-misunderstanding-about-antibiotic-resistance)    
  2. WHO multi-country survey reveals widespread public misunderstanding about antibiotic resistance ( full report – https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/194460)
  3. Probing popular and political discourse on antimicrobial resistance in China- Published online 2019 Feb 28.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s41256-019-0097-z –  Global Health Research and Policy

     (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6394084/)  
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