Pakistan is ranked fifth among twenty-two countries with highest burden of tuberculosis infections, it is one of the four countries where polio is still endemic and is the 9th country in the world where 90,000 children die of respiratory tract infections before their fifth birthday.
A significant proportion of such infections are caused by drug resistant pathogen and antimicrobial resistance has been recognized as a matter of National concern in Pakistan. In an effort to stringently monitor the dynamics of spread of resistance an initiative was developed at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) department of Biology under the leader ship of Dr Shaper Mirza and Dr Safee Ullah Chaudhry to map drug resistance, identify trends and develop a robust and sustainable mechanism of surveillance of drug resistance.
As part of this initiative, antimicrobial resistance data obtained from 5000 samples was analyzed in collaboration with Chughtais Laboratory and shared with the Center for Disease Dynamics and Policy, for inclusion into country wise data known as World Resistance Map (ResMap).
Talking about the effort, Dr Sharper Mirza said, "To lower the incidence of antimicrobial resistance we are currently working on understanding the population biology of resistant bacteria and the molecular mechanisms deployed by such bacteria to acquire resistance against antimicrobials"
Our research will help health care practitioners make informed decisions, regarding use of antibiotics, enabling them to lower the incidence of antimicrobial resistance added by Dr Safee Ullah Chaudhry.
With the discovery of the first antibiotic in the year 1936, Alexander Fleming predicted that "inappropriate dosing will expose microbes to non-lethal concentrations of antibiotics resulting in development of resistance". However, scientists continued to believe that mostly all microbes will succumb and bacterial diseases would be a thing of past. According to the experts this pipe dream was over with the emergence of resistance among bacteria to most commonly used antimicrobials such as penicillin. Antimicrobial resistance is now recognized as one of the most serious global threats to human health.
In recent years, infections caused by resistant bacteria claimed 700,000 lives world-wide and is estimated that an extra 10 million people will die by 2025 due to infections caused by drug resistant pathogens. While it is stated that a vast majority of these deaths occur in low to middle income countries such as Pakistan, there is a complete dearth of data regarding burden of infection caused by resistant pathogens in low to middle income countries.