Health experts, development workers, academicians and policymakers have said that Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is now a growing threat to both human and animal health. It is now being considered as a major threat to global health, food security and socio-economic development. The AMR is becoming a serious public health problem in Bangladesh too, they added.
They were speaking at an online launching event that was organised on Sunday evening (March 13) to inaugurate a project titled ‘Community Solutions to Antimicrobial Resistance (COSTAR)’.
ARK Foundation launched the new project in order to address the alarming issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Bangladesh through raising awareness among the common people in rural areas.
COSTAR is a joint initiative by the University of Leeds, ARK Foundation Bangladesh, HERD International Nepal, Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Bangladesh), Malaria Consortium, University of Liverpool, and University of Western, Australia and Global Challenges Research Fund of the UK. The project is being implemented in Bangladesh and Nepal. It is funded by UK Research and Innovation GCRF collective fund.
Dr Rumana Huque, executive director of ARK Foundation and a professor of Economics dept at Dhaka University, delivered the address of welcome while Dr Rebecca King, an associate professor at University of Leeds and principal investigator of the project, narrated the goals and objectives of the project.
Md Ashadul Islam, former senior secretary of Planning Division, spoke at the event as the chief gust with Prof Dr AHM Enayet Hossain, director general at Medical Education of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) in the chair.
Prof Dr Tahmina Shirin, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), Prof Dr Abul Faiz, former director general of DGHS, Prof Mahmudur Rahman, former director of IEDCR, Dr Nitish Debnath, country lead at Fleming Fund, Dr Khaleda Islam, former director of Primary Health Care and Fleming Fund, Dr Amam Jonaid Siddiqui, a professor of Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Science University, and Dr Fariza Firoz, research fellow at ARK Foundation also joined the event.
In her address of welcome, Prof Rumana Huque said that Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) was a growing threat to both human and animal health. Its irrational use among humans and animals further worsens the situation. As a result of the ineffectiveness of antimicrobials, the cost of medical treatment in public life will increase significantly, she added.
Stressing on the economic impact of AMR, she mentioned a recent study that finds that Bangladesh could face almost Tk 788,000 crore decrease in GDP by 2050 if AMR is not curbed now.
She said that the COSTAR project would prevent antimicrobial resistance in Bangladesh through community dialogue approach (CDA) interventions.
Dr Rebecca King expressed her concern, saying that AMR is now a leading cause of death globally, higher than those caused by HIV-AIDS and malaria.
She added that global guidance on tackling AMR recommend actions including the development of new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines, and the implementation of national and global surveillance systems.
She noted that COSTAR would focus on how individuals and communities could collectively address the drivers of AMR in ways that are feasible and affordable to them.
In his speech, Ashadul Islam said that in recent times the AMR has been considered as a major threat globally. Collective, inclusive, and interdisciplinary efforts are needed to prevent antimicrobial ineffectiveness.
Dr Tahmina Shirin said that antimicrobial ineffectiveness has been increasing in Bangladesh since 2015. The situation in the country has escalated at a more alarming rate in recent times as well as after the Covid-19 situation. In order to prevent the ineffectiveness of antimicrobials, it is very important to strengthen the infection prevention policies in the hospitals of the country.
Prof Abul Faiz said people still have little idea about the use of antibiotics. It is very important to make the common people aware of this.
In his closing address, Dr AHM Enayet Hossain expressed concern over the current ineffectiveness of antimicrobials in Bangladesh and said that not only the health sector but also other sectors of the country have to play an important role in tackling this problem.
According to a recent study, Antimicrobial Resistance accounted for a staggering 1.27 million deaths in 2019. It is estimated that deaths from AMR infections are set to rise to 10 million by 2050 if no action is taken. This is at least as high as the deaths attributed to Malaria or HIV/AIDs. Moreover, the highest burden of AMR attributed deaths is within LMICs.