Microbial resistance, a worrisome global health threat

Microbial resistance, a worrisome global health threat

The role of the environment in the emergence and spread of microbial resistance is of particular concern and is related to the discharge of drugs and chemicals into the environment. This is one of the most worrisome health threats today.

The United Nations Environmental Assembly, UNEA-3 denounced these days that microbial resistance is being generated due to contamination and is a danger to the population.

Two factors are causing microbial resistance: on the one hand, the release of drugs into the environment. As an example, we can mention the concentrations of antibiotics found in the Musi river in India, which are 1,000 times higher than those found in developed countries due to the spillage of pharmaceuticals. These drugs enter the food chain and are ingested by the population through contaminated food and water. The excessive intake of medications is also added. On the other hand, the discharge of chemical substances into the environment.

The Borders report, presented by UNEA-3, noted that some 700,000 people die each year from resistant infections because antimicrobial drugs have become less effective in eliminating resistant pathogens.

"This warning is truly terrifying: we could be stimulating the development of ferocious superbugs due to ignorance and carelessness," UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim launched as an alarm in a statement.

Microbial resistance

The indiscriminate use of antibiotics is not only given in humans and animals, in agriculture they are also widely used. In recent decades it has caused an increase in microbial resistance, "but the role of the environment and pollution has received little attention," Solheim warned.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when a microorganism evolves to resist the effects of an antimicrobial agent.

"This requires immediate and priority action or we will run the risk of resistance evolving behind our backs, with potentially dire consequences," insisted the executive director of UN Environment.

There is clear evidence that the environmental release of antimicrobial compounds in household, hospital and pharmaceutical facility effluents and agricultural runoff, combined with direct contact between natural bacterial communities and discharged resistant bacteria, is driving bacterial evolution. and the emergence of more resistant strains. Once consumed, up to 80 percent of antibiotics are excreted unmetabolized along with resistant bacteria, according to the report.

The problem is growing, as the consumption of antibiotics in humans has grown by 36% so far this century and its use in livestock is expected to increase to 67% by 2030.

Sewage water

Wastewater treatment plants are prepared to remove all resistant bacteria and antibiotics, and indeed can be hotspots for antimicrobial resistance.

The United Nations warns that there is evidence that multi-drug resistant bacteria are common in marine waters and sediments near aquaculture, industrial and municipal discharges.


To solve the problem, the UNEA-3 urged addressing the use and disposal of pharmaceuticals and antibiotics, as well as the release into the environment of antimicrobial drugs, relevant contaminants and resistant bacteria.

With information from:

Video: Antibiotic resistance: A global health catastrophe? (July 2021).