According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the problem of antimicrobial resistance is becoming an increasing problem all over the world.
The assistant director-general of the WHO says that, “Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,”
“Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier and benefit from modern medicine. Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating".
The report , “Antimicrobial resistance: Global report on surveillance,” documents resistance to all antibiotics, especially to "last resort", antibiotics. The resistance concentrates on seven different bacteria that are implicated in serious diseases such as diarrhea, sepsis, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and gonorrhea.
According to this report, the resistance to fluoroquinolones, which is an antibiotic that is usually prescribed for the treatment of urinary tract infections, is no longer effective in more than half of the patients who are prescribed the drug. When this antibiotic was initially introduced in the 80s, the resistance was zero.
Cephalosporins, that are widely prescribed for the treatment of gonorrhea, when everything else has failed, is now failing in many patients world wide and with over one million confirmed cases of gonorrhea being diagnosed in the world every day, this is a recipe for disaster.
In addition, Carbapenem antibiotics, which are currently utilized for the treatment of extremely common, but life-threatening infection Klebsiella pneumoniae are now no longer effective in over half the cases.
What does all this really mean?
Well, resistance to antibiotics has been on the minds of physicians and other health-care workers for years and many doctors are much more strict when it comes to handing out prescriptions for antibiotics.
Our worst nightmares seem to be coming true with evidence from all over the world that people are not responding to antibiotics the way they used to. This is largely due to the fact that in the past physicians used to hand out antibiotic prescriptions like candy. When patients take antibiotics for every little sniffle, the body reacts by becoming immune to them and when that same patient really needs the antibiotic, it's no longer effective. In such cases the infection becomes the resistant form of the disease, spreads faster and can be more deadly.
These patients require longer stays in the hospital and are much sicker, with doctors at a loss for interventional treatment, some patients die.
How do we deal with this?
According to the WHO, in order to deal with this problem we need to develop better equipment for diagnostic purposes, in order to monitor antibiotic resistance. It's also crucial that we inform people of the importance of thorough hand washing. Vaccinations are also immensely important and adequate infection control measures should be implemented in all health-care facilities.
Physicians should only be prescribing antibiotics when theyare really required. Nurses and doctors should be educating patients on the importance of taking all the medication, even if they feel well, they should not discontinue antibiotic use until all the medication is gone. Never share a prescription with others.
If patients understand why they are being asked to do certain things, they are often much more compliant. Be sure to explain in detail what antibiotic resistance is and how they can help lower the incidence of this problem.
As a healthcare worker, how do you feel about this problem? Comment below.