Antimicrobial Resistance

Key facts

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global health and development threat. 
  • The World Health Organization has declared that AMR is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity.
  • Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant pathogens.
  • Lack of clean water and sanitation and inadequate infection prevention and control promotes the spread of microbes, some of which can be resistant to antimicrobial treatment.
  • The cost of AMR to the economy is significant. In addition to death and disability, prolonged illness results in longer hospital stays, the need for more expensive medicines and financial challenges for those impacted.
  • Without effective antimicrobials, the success of modern medicine in treating infections, including during major surgery and cancer chemotherapy, would be at increased risk.

What is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) happens when microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi become exposed to non-lethal doses of antimicrobial agents (e.g., antibiotics, antivirals and antifungals) survive and replicate. Microbes that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes called “superbugs”.

International health agencies such as the United Nations and the World Health Organisation have declared escalating AMR as one of the gravest and most urgent threats to global public health and patient safety.

AMR is reducing the pool of effective antibiotics and other antimicrobials which is the core of modern medicine. These drugs are vital in the treatment of potentially fatal infectious diseases and to ensure that complex medical procedures such as surgery such as joint replacements and organ transplants, kidney dialysis and chemotherapy can be provided with little risk.

Superbug methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a leading cause of bacterial infections in health-care facilities and the community. 

When the skin microbiome is disrupted by chronic skin conditions such as eczema, wounds or surgical procedures, MRSA can gain access to the underlying tissues or the bloodstream and cause infection. 

MRSA infections range from relatively mild skin and soft tissue infections to rapidly escalating, invasive disease with high mortality. People with chronic diseases such as diabetes or compromised immune systems and those with invasive medical devices such as replacement valves, pacemakers and catheters, are particularly vulnerable.

Excessive use of topical antibiotics for skin infections is known to be a key driver of AMR. Resistance of bacteria to topical antibiotics is important for three reasons:

    • increasing resistance leads to ineffective treatment with these medicines
    • resistance to one antibiotic often means resistance to other antibiotics
    • increasing resistance to topical antibiotics threatens the effectiveness of oral and intravenous formulations of these medicines

Global scientific and medical research over the past two decades show that, individually and in combination, essential oils are a source of safe, effective and renewable antimicrobials for use in therapeutics and hygiene products such as hand and surface sanitisation. They have rich chemical diversity and few side effects compared to synthetic chemicals, and the multiplicity of bioactives minimize the chances of giving rise to AMR.

Independent research shows that East Cape mānuka oil, alone and in combination with other actives is highly effective against MRSA. As such, Manuka Bioscience is actively focusing on becoming a part of the global solution to the problem of AMR.

How does Mānuka oil help with AMR?

Scientific research over the past two decades show that, individually and in combination, essential oils such as mānuka oil are a source of safe, highly effective and renewable antimicrobials for use in human and animal therapeutics and hygiene products. They have rich chemical diversity and few side effects compared to synthetic chemicals and do not give rise to AMR.