Water Currents: WASH and Antimicrobial Resistance

Water Currents: WASH and Antimicrobial Resistance – October 1, 2019

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria or virus change to resist the action of antimicrobials (e.g., antibiotics). Currently, it is estimated that at least 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases.

Each year, more and more common diseases are becoming untreatable and lifesaving medical procedures are becoming much riskier due to AMR. A recent UN report on AMR (“No Time to Wait,” listed below) states that drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050, and that by 2030, AMR could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty. amr

This issue of Water Currents contains recent studies on the connection between AMR and water and sanitation, the One Health approach to tackling AMR, country situation reports, and other AMR–related topics.

USAID’s priorities under the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy—improving good governance, water access, and sanitation and hygiene—are considered essential to prevent and counteract the spread of global microbial resistance. In addition, USAID’s Bureau for Global Health works with international organizations and local governments, academia, and private sector partners across Asia and Africa to promote prudent use of antimicrobials in the livestock, aquaculture, and crop production sectors to minimize the likelihood of AMR development and spread.

We would like to thank staff from the Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity (SHARE) project, Emory University’s Center for Global Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, and Global Water 2020 for suggesting AMR as a topic and for contributing content to this issue.

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Overviews 
Antimicrobial Resistance: An Emerging Water, Sanitation and Hygiene IssueWorld Health Organization (WHO), 2015. This briefing note provides an overview on the role of water and waste in combating AMR and identifies key areas to explore related to risk assessment management, policy, and research.

No Time to Wait: Securing the Future from Drug-Resistant InfectionsWHO, April 2019. AMR is a global crisis that threatens a century of progress in health and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Because the drivers of AMR lie in humans, animals, plants, food, and the environment, a sustained One Health response is essential to engage and unite all stakeholders around a shared vision and goals.

Differential Drivers of Antimicrobial Resistance Across the WorldAccounts of Chemical Research, March 2019. Researchers show that high population densities in cities that suffer from poor sanitation and solid-waste disposal can potentially impact the dissemination of resistance.

Global Antimicrobial Resistance: A Complex and Dire Threat with Few Definite AnswersTropical Medicine and International Health, March 2019. Global AMR data and projections are simply alarming. Despite widespread recognition of the issue’s magnitude and urgency, the key drivers of global AMR dissemination, and how best to contain it, remain poorly defined.

The Economics of Antimicrobial Resistance and the Role of Water and Sanitation ServicesWASHeconomics, January 2019. Water, wastewater, and feces play a key role in the carriage of microorganisms and their genetic material. For example, water can act as a reservoir of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and exposure route to humans (and animals).

Read the complete issue.

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