ABC’s of Antibiotic Resistance
I vividly remember being well beaten for being a destructive and stubborn kid. And the more I was beaten, the less I felt the pains till it reached the moment I felt no pains but irritations when I was beaten. I guess my pain receptors were dead. I am sure present day bacteria would tell a similar story in regards to antibiotics for they have been exposed to all sorts and grown immune to them rendering treatment ineffective.
Antibiotic is the medical term to describe drugs used in treating diseases caused by bacteria. They play a very important role in reducing the presence and burden of diseases such as pneumonia, cholera, TB and sexually transmittable diseases like gonorrhea (call them communicable diseases) which are very much alive and active in our communities. With such as crisis like antibiotic resistance, treating people with HIV/AIDS would be difficult.
We cannot blame the bacteria for being resistant to antibiotics because adaptability is a natural process for them. The bulk of the blame falls on you and maybe me. Our attitude and habits towards drugs are contributing factors: the use of fake and counterfeit medicines from road side doctors and mobile pharmacies; poor prescription for health workers; and above all, stubbornness on your part to comply with treatment. Yes you! How often do you finish your treatment, especially for typhoid?
We never like to take blames no matter how obvious it might be, so we push it onto some other person. Thank goodness we have the government who would always carry the blame. We could blame it on government for the weak medical regulatory capacity and the circulation of substandard (counterfeit) drugs, or the weak laboratory capacity on antibiotic testing and reporting and lack of essential reagents and consumables. We could also blame government for the limited quality assurance and control; protocol or lack of antibiotic surveillance strategies. But you know if we did just the simple things like complying with treatment, we would not be facing most of these challenges right?
And hey, antibiotic resistant is NOT an African issue, it is thriving in all nations and communities just like ours. And did you also know that the famous gonorrhea would soon become resistant to all lines of treatment rendering it untreatable. Here is what would happen if gonorrhea is untreatable:
- Increased rates of infertility,
- Increased rates of pregnancy complications including miscarriages,
- Blindness of new births
- And you would hate sex and curse God for creating it.
But wait a moment, what is Antibiotic Resistance? Antibiotic resistance is the household name for Antimicrobial resistance which is resistance of microorganisms like; bacteria, fungi, viruses and malaria parasites to a drug that used to effective infections caused by these microorganisms. Antibiotic resistance is specific to bacteria while antimicrobial resistance covers all microorganisms including bacteria. Antimicrobial resistance kills people and slows the control and eradication of infectious diseases like malaria, syphilis, yellow fever and cholera without leaving out the famous gonorrhea. When infections become difficult to treat, new medications are introduced marking cost of treatment very expensive for many to afford and they end up dying.
This whole thing of antibiotic resistance is more complex than we think it is. It is influenced by many interconnected factors and as such, single isolated interventions have very little impact. Coordinated action is needed to minimize emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.
According to the WHO, all parties (individuals, health workers and pharmacies, government and pharmaceutical industries) can help in reducing antibiotic resistance and here is how;
- Wash our hands and avoid close contact with sick people to prevent bacterial and viral transmissions.
- Get vaccinated and keep vaccinated up to date.
- Using antimicrobial drugs only when prescribed by a certified health professional
- Complete the full treatment course
- Never share antimicrobial drugs with others or use leftover prescriptions.
- Health workers and pharmacists can help by;
- Enhancing infection prevention and control in hospitals and clinics.
- Only prescribing and dispensing antibiotics which are truly needed,
- Prescribing and dispensing the right antimicrobial drugs to treat the illness.
- Government can help by
- Improving monitoring around the extent and cause of resistance.
- Strengthening infection control and prevention.
- Promoting and regulating appropriate use of medicines.
- Making information widely available on the impact of antimicrobial resistance and how the public and health professionals can play their part.
- Recognizing and rewarding innovation and development of new treatment options and other tools.
- Scientists and pharmaceutical industry can help by
- Fostering innovation, research and development of new vaccines, diagnostic tools and treatment options.
So now you have completed a 60 hours medical/pharmaceutical course in just 5 minutes. And with such knowledge we are counting on you to help conquer bacteria through the proper use of antibiotics.
You don’t want to go without watching this interesting video by Dr Susan Enjema on Antibiotics Resistance.