For the last two years, nations have been in chaos trying to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In comparison, everyone focuses on finding a cure for this virus, a more significant threat looming in the background. Today, antibiotic resistance is increasing the severity of various diseases such as gonorrhoea, tuberculosis, pneumonia.
What is an antibiotic?
An antibiotic is a medicine that kills or destroys disease-causing microorganisms such as bacteria. It inhibits the growth of bacterial infection in our bodies. The most commonly used antibiotic is penicillin.
What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance is when the bacteria change their genetic makeup in response to antibiotics. It isn’t the human or animal’s body that is becoming resistant but the bacteria itself. If this resistance increases, treating simple illnesses such as tuberculosis will become immensely tougher, leading to higher hospital costs and mortality rates.
Why is it dangerous?
From a minor disease to major surgeries, antibiotics prescription is for every health-related problem. Over the years, it has become almost standard for people to take over the table medication by pharmacists without any doctor’s prescription. The over usage of medicine leads to bacteria becoming resistant to survive.
Before the invention of antibiotics, people could die of minor injuries or diseases that are now easily treatable. If this trend continues, we will once again enter a world without antibiotics. Certain microorganisms are found with strains that are impossible to treat with the hardest antibiotics. Common infections will prove to be lethal, and performing surgeries will be almost definitely fatal.
During chemotherapy, organ transplant, or surgeries, high doses of antibiotics are provided to the individual. It is done to protect the weakened body from exposure to bacterial infections. With antibiotic resistance, the future of such life-saving procedures will change drastically.
People will require more expensive drugs. Higher treatment costs will have harmful effects on the economic stability of most households.
What can be done to prevent this outbreak?
Steps necessary for individuals:
Not misusing antibiotics for minor inconveniences.
Using antibiotics only when prescribed by a licensed professional.
Prevent yourself from catching infections by following sanitary habits such as washing your hands, using hygienic cooking methods, drinking clean water, and bathing regularly.
Avoid raw meats, wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly:
Avoid meat as much as possible; animals grown in farms are given high amounts of antibiotics for the prevention of diseases. This increases the risk not just for animals but humans as well.
Steps for the government
In 2017 ICMR advised hospitals to take strict actions for regulation of antibiotics such as polymyxins. Scheduling them as ‘high need’ or ‘end use’ antibiotics.
Create guidelines for the sale of antibiotics in pharmacies.
Take strict action over the medication provided in ICUs to critical patients. According to a study, 10% of critical patients in India were resistant to antibiotics.
Investing more time and money into research for new antibiotics, newer strains of bacterial infections.
1 in 7 reported post-surgery India belongs antibiotic-resistant causes. It is a much larger problem than what we’re lead to believe. Although research is ongoing in this field, no definitive solution has yet been reached. If the pandemic taught us anything, the ease of transport connected to the world today also poses a great threat of spreading diseases at faster rates.
Soon enough, antibiotic resistance will become a global problem, and countries like India with crumbling healthcare will face a huge crisis.