20 October 2022
Have you heard about antimicrobial resistance?
Imagine that a simple injury could kill you. For example, a fall from a bike, or by cutting your salad, you injure your finger, which could lead to death. I think it sounds terrifying. Unfortunately, it might happen. Have you heard about antimicrobial resistance? Probably not, like most of us, but we should all be aware of the silent pandemic.
What is Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)?
Antimicrobial resistance is one of the major public health threats in the world. Resistance occurs when bacteria and fungi do not respond to drugs designed to kill them. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant germs are more challenging to treat. A person with drug resistance often has a bigger chance of dying. Each year around 700,000 deaths occur due to diseases caused by resistant pathogens. Furthermore, as estimated by the Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (2019), in 2050, 10,000,000 people will die each year if no action is taken shortly. Also, if AMR is not addressed, annual global GDP could fall by as much as 3.8 per cent by 2050.
But why is it happening?
Before the 20th century, people used to die from simple infectious diseases. Life expectancy at birth was around 47 years old. In the 1920s, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. It was considered a miracle drug, which started the new antibiotic era. Unfortunately, drug resistance develops quicker than new antibiotics have been created. Microbes develop resistance so rapidly that pharmaceutical companies have decided that antibiotic creation is not in their best interest. Resistance develops due to various factors: human, animal and agricultural use, lack of financial investment in development and environmental pollution from medicines production.
What if antibiotics disappear?
Most people know that antibiotics save millions of lives in the world. Those drugs are used to protect people with weakened immune systems and cure different infectious diseases. Cancer patients, transplant recipients, people with joint or hip replacements and many surgical patients get antibiotics. If germs become resistant to all possible antibiotics, humanity will lose a big part of treatment and surgical interventions. Furthermore, morbidity and mortality caused by infectious diseases will increase dramatically.
So, what should we do?
Everyone can take a tiny step to make a big difference.
Try to choose meat without antibiotics. It is estimated that around 93 tons of antibiotics are used for animals globally.
Remember the simple rule you don’t need to use antibiotics if a virus caused your illness. Don’t misuse antibiotics, and don’t buy them without a prescription. A recent study found that 43% of antibiotics prescribed by doctors in the US were prescribed for conditions that do not respond to antibiotics. In most developing countries, antimicrobial medicines can be purchased without a prescription.
Finally, share this with your friends, relatives and family. These small steps might help you to save your and others’ lives.
I want to finish this blog with a quote from a person who created the first antibiotic. After getting a Nobel prize in the interview, Alexander Fleming said: ‘’The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism. I hope this evil can be averted.’’