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Is Antimicrobial Resistance A Slowly Looming Disaster?

Antibiotics are medicines that are used to treat and control the spread of bacterial infections. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria fail to respond to the use of these medicines. 

These bacteria when they become antibiotic resistant may cause infections in humans and animals that are harder to treat than the ones caused by non-resistant bacteria.   

Antibiotic resistance is responsible for extended hospital stays, more medical costs and higher mortality. 

The world urgently needs to change its practice of prescribing and using antibiotics. Even if new medicines were developed, without proper use, antibiotic resistance will continue to remain a major threat. Also, care must be taken to reduce the spread of infections through vaccination, proper hand washing, good food hygiene and practising safer sex.

Antibiotic resistance is rising in all parts of the world and new resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally that threaten our ability to treat common infectious diseases. A growing list of infections like tuberculosis, pneumonia and other diseases are becoming harder and sometimes impossible to treat as antibiotics become less effective. 

The emergence and spread of resistance are further worsened where antibiotics can be bought for human or animal use without a prescription. Similarly, antibiotics are often over-prescribed by health workers and veterinarians and over-used by the public in countries without standard treatment guidelines. 


When infections are no longer treatable by first-line antibiotics, more expensive medicines must be used. This often results in longer duration of illness and treatment, often in healthcare facilities that increases health care costs as well as the economic burden on families and societies. 

Besides, antibiotic resistance is resulting in significant risk to the achievements of modern medicine.  

Organ transplantations, surgeries such as caesarean sections and chemotherapy become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections. 

Prevention and control 

Antibiotic resistance is heightened by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics along with poor infection prevention and control.  Steps can be ensured at all levels of society to control the impact and reduce the spread of resistance. 

Individuals can prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance by restricting antibiotic use except in cases prescribed by a certified health professional, following proper advice when using antibiotics, never demand antibiotics if your health worker says you don’t need them, do not use or share leftover antibiotics. In addition, maintain proper hygiene and prevent infections by regularly washing hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, preparing food hygienically, practising safer sex, and taking vaccinations appropriately. 

Health professionals on their part can prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance by prescribing antibiotics only when needed, recommend adequate use of antibiotics, encourage infection prevention for example, hand washing, safer sex, vaccination and proper hygiene. Lastly, report surveillance teams about antibiotic resistant infections if any. 

Policy makers can ensure a proper plan is in place to tackle antibiotic resistance, strengthen programmes, policies and proper implementation of infection prevention and control measures, improve surveillance of antibiotic-resistant infections and regulation and promotion of the appropriate use and disposal of quality medicines besides availability of necessary information on the impact of antibiotic resistance. 

Healthcare industry can invest in research and development of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics and other tools to prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance.  

Thus, reducing the overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants is the only way to achieve better global health. Antimicrobial resistance must be contained to ensure the efficacy of antimicrobials and secure the health and development gains of these last 50 years.

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