Antibiotic resistance is a major threat reaching pandemic levels. Bacterial infections that were once easily treated with the antibiotics are becoming resistant to not only the drugs that were once used to treat these infections, but also to a growing number of drugs, including the last-resort antibiotics. There are many reasons as to why the development of antibiotic resistance has become accelerated in past years, including over-prescribing antibiotics, not taking the entire course of the treatment, improper disposal of antibiotics, poor hygiene, and over-using them in agriculture and marine farming. However, it is not too late to fight back against antibiotic resistance.
it is not too late to fight back against antibiotic resistance
The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed many ways which everyone (general public, healthcare workers, agriculture sector, and policymakers) can help reduce the impact of antibiotic resistance. One of the most important things everyone can do is to prevent the spread of infections as it decreases the amount of antibiotics used. This reduces the selection for antibiotic resistant bacteria. Simply washing your hands regularly with regular soap and water and not antibacterial soaps is adequate because there is no evidence for the benefits of using antibacterial products. In addition, maintaining good hygiene and being up-to-date on your vaccination can prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. If you are sick, you should only take antibiotics that are prescribed as directed, not demand medications that will be ineffective against your illness, finish the entire prescription even if you start to feel better, do not share antibiotics, and avoid unnecessary contact when contagious.
only take antibiotics that are prescribed as directed
Health care worker can help prevent infections by ensuring their work environments are clean and sanitized and prescribing and dispensing antibiotics only when tests have confirmed that antibiotics are required. It has been reported that up to 50% of antibiotic use in humans and animals is neither correct nor necessary. Similar reports have shown that millions of prescriptions for antibiotics, which are useless against viruses, are written up each year to treat viral infections. Therefore, many hospitals have implemented an antimicrobial/ antibiotic stewardship program where healthcare workers are committed to using antimicrobials appropriately by using the correct antibiotics, administering the correct dosage, and using them only when necessary.
In the agriculture sector, antibiotics should only be used to control and treat infectious diseases under veterinary supervision and ensuring animals are vaccinated to reduce the use of antibiotics. In addition, they should adopt sustainable practices that have improvements in production and processing of food, hygiene, and biosecurity. Additionally, implementation of international standards for the responsible use of antibiotics and guidelines should be carried out globally.
What policymakers can do to help is to improve and enhance monitoring around what causes antibiotic resistance. The CDC collects data on infections that are antibiotic resistant, what causes infections, and the risk factors associated with an infection in order to develop plans to prevent the spread of the infection. In addition, the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) was created as a collaborative effort between various agencies in the USA, including the CDC, FDA, USDA, and state and local public health departments to monitor antibiotic resistance among bacteria found in food by testing bacteria from retail meats, animals producing food, and humans. Using the information gathered, NAMRS can provide information about the patterns of resistance to regulatory agencies, the industries affected, and policymakers. These policymakers can in turn make a national action plan to tackle this problem by strengthening infection control and prevention policies, regulating and promoting appropriate usage of antibiotics, and ensuring information is available to everyone on the impact and costs of antibiotic resistance, as well as preventative measures.
we should still invest in developing new antibiotics and diagnostics methods
Although we have reached a stage where some antibiotics are no longer effective, we should still invest in developing new antibiotics and diagnostics methods as well as figuring out the mechanisms of resistance. Understanding the mechanisms behind antibiotic resistance can be important to developing more effective drugs that are less likely to accelerate development of resistance.
Everyone has a role in reducing the impact of antibiotic resistance. Let’s make that change together now to save ourselves and the future generations.
- Dantas, G., and Sommer, M.O.A. How to Fight Back Against Antibiotic Resistance. 2014. American Scientist 10(1): 42-51.