World’s ANTIBIOTICS AWARENESS WEEK (Nov 14 – 20): Stop Antibiotics Misuse
Antibiotics have transformed medicine and saved millions of lives. This wonderful invention – which started with the discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928 – has made many successful surgeries possible and put Infections under control. But the tragedy is; antibiotics are about to be rendered useless because of me and you – our adamant, inconsistent nature, our misappropriate use of antibiotics.
Benefits of antibiotics
Apart from saving people’s lives, antibiotics have also played crucial role in achieving major advances in medicine and surgery such as successfully preventing and treating infections in individuals receiving chemotherapy and people with acute and chronic diseases.
People in the US were expected to live for only 56.4years old in 1920, now however the US average life span is 80 years. Antibiotics have helped to extend expected life spans by changing the outcome of infections in general. It has done the same in developing countries like Nigeria where sanitation is still poor and has drastically decreased morbidity and mortality caused by food borne and poverty related infections.
Our Present situation
Bacteria resistance has evolved over the years, from penicillin resistance to methicillin resistance and now vancomycin resistance, the newer strains of the resistant bacteria are getting stronger and stronger as the new drugs being developed against them are getting stronger and stronger.
Penicillin resistant bacteria à Methicillin Resistance Staph. Aureus (MRSA) à Vancomycin Resistant Strains.
Since all they do is, seek refuge in our blood and make friends with these drugs we create to terminate them. Our usual practice of just taking the first and second dose of antibiotics prescribed to us, when we start seeing the physical manifestation of the drugs such as yellow coloured, drug smelling urine or our boil shrinking, is killing. As we only give room to the bacteria left from the good concentration urinated out of our body system to adapt to the lower toxicity of the drugs in our body.
The most alarming and hurtful part is that, the learned ones and medical oriented individuals partake in these practice even medical students. And we go about clinical coats, screaming in the market place, stop drug abuse, stop drug abuse!! This we do mostly under the umbrella of an association or a philanthropic group, after which we return to our various homes and continue the bad practice. Even among our relatives, we find this misuse and we do nothing to stop it. But then, it was discovered that this predicament is worldwide which brings us to the Question what is “misuse”? Or for the sake of appropriateness¸ “what are the causes of our antibiotic resistance crises”?
Overuse of drugs started way back, few years after penicillin – the first antibiotics –was invented, then, Sir Alexander Fleming raised an alarm but no one listened to him. An era of drug overuse clearly drives the evolution of drug resistance. The Bacteria, like every other living thing, inherit genes from their “parents”, get modified overtime and they build resistance to these drugs.
Despite warnings, antibiotics are overprescribed worldwide and this is worsened by the fact that Antibiotics are sold in many countries unregulated as OTC (Over The Counter drugs) without proper prescription. So people can freely buy and use any form of antibiotics based on discretion. And when even prescribed, studies have shown that treatment indication – choice of agent, duration of antibiotic therapy – Is incorrect in 30% to 50% of cases. In Addition, 30% to 60% of the antibiotics prescribed in intensive care units have been found to be unnecessary, inappropriate or suboptimal.
Another way of overuse is when we use them extensively for livestock. Treating livestock with antimicrobials is said to improve the overall health of the animals, producing larger yields and a higher quality the products. The antibiotics used in livestock are consumed by humans when they consume food and resistance starts to set in. All these are not so much under control, I mean, patients have to be treated and livestock have to be bred. But then, the next form of misuse which is underuse/incomplete doses and self-overuse is what is most important here in our environment today.
Incomplete doses/Under use
This is so rampart, there wouldn’t be need to emphasize. Drugs are supposed to be used adequately, not too much and too little. When we don’t complete our doses, and the blood concentration supposed to cause adequate therapeutic effect isn’t optimal, only some of the bacteria get eliminated while the others supposed to be susceptible start to build up resistance against the drug and then produce offspring that are also resistant.
And what makes the case worse is the Lack of new drug development by the pharmaceutical industries due to reduced economy incentives and challenging regulatory requirements and approval.
Consequences of Antibiotics Misuse
Antibiotics resistant infections are already widely spread across the globe. Many public health organizations have described the rapid emergency of resistant bacteria as a crisis or nightmare scenario that could have catastrophic consequences. CDC, WHO institute of medicine, federal interagency task forces have declared resistant bacteria as a substantial treat to the entire globe.
Here is fact; MRSAs kills more American each year than HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, emphysema and homicide put together. Now, Vancomycin which is supposed to be our refuge drug is no longer as effective because Vancomycin resistant enterococci and so many other additional pathogens are developing resistance to many common antibiotics.
In conclusion, rapidly emerging resistance bacteria threaten the extraordinary health benefits that have been achieved with antibiotics in time past. This crisis is global, reflecting the underuse and overuse of these drugs and the lack of development of new antibiotic agents by pharmaceutical companies to address the challenge. Now, to achieve a non-resistant environment for pathogens, we need to think on the following:
What should be done and is within our power to avoid this killing resistance?
Should antibiotics no longer be sold OTC? OR Should we keep campaigning to people to stop the misuse?
You can drop your own ideas on our social media (twitter) using the #StopAntibioticMisuse
Karolinska Institute Investidators in Sweeden
CDC, World Health Organisation
Standing Committee on Publication (SCOPUB-FAMSA 2016/2017)
Agoyi Mary Oluwakemisola,
Chairman, Standing Committee on Publication (FAMSA 2016/2017),