According to the World Health Organization (WHO), overuse of antibiotics is one of the most urgent global health problems. The increasing numbers of drug-resistant infections are becoming increasingly difficult to treat and, in some cases, untreatable. This is a major concern as it could lead to a global health crisis. In fact, according to the CDC, 2.8 million drug-resistant infections occur in the US alone each year.
What Are Drug-Resistant Infections?
When the bacteria that cause infections adapt and alter over time and gain the ability to withstand the medications intended to kill them, infections become drug-resistant. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most prevalent types of medication resistance. In this process, bacteria, not people or animals, develop antibiotic resistance. These microorganisms are occasionally referred to as superbugs.
As a result, many medications—including antibiotics—are becoming less effective at curing illnesses. This procedure is accelerated by the excessive use of antibiotics in people, animals, and plants.
Why Does Drug-Resistance Matter?
Modern medicine relies heavily on medications like antibiotics to both prevent and treat illnesses. The future of contemporary medicine is in jeopardy as infections that are resistant to medications increase in frequency.
Without powerful antibiotics, everyday ailments like diarrhea, routine surgeries like hip replacements, and even unintentional wounds like cuts could all turn fatal. Antibiotics, antifungals, and antimalarials are just a few of the medications that could lose their effectiveness owing to resistance. For instance, this makes it more difficult to treat fungus infections, HIV, or malaria.
Who Is At Risk?
Everywhere and to everyone, drug-resistant diseases can occur. Drug-resistant microorganisms can infect us all and cause diseases. At least 700,000 individuals worldwide pass away each year as a result of illnesses with medication resistance.
Due to a lack of data and systematic surveillance in many locations and nations, it is difficult to understand the health burden of drug-resistant diseases. It’s likely that much more people than we think are impacted.
What Is Causing the Rise in Drug-Resistant Infections?
Drug resistance will occur naturally over time, but its recent growth has been accelerated by human activity. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that only half of antibiotics are used appropriately.
Antibiotics are used in huge quantities to increase growth and production in farming industries. In some countries, it is thought that a large amount of our consumption of antibiotics is from eating animals that have received the antibiotics to increase their growth.
It’s not just the farming industry that has contributed to overuse. It’s human healthcare too. Of the roughly 150 million prescriptions written by doctors in the USA every year, 50 million may not have been necessary.
How Can We Slow Down Drug-Resistant Infections?
It is crucial to make better use of the current antibiotics in both the human and animal healthcare industries. Antibiotic resistance in bacteria will be less likely to develop if they are only occasionally exposed to them.
The creation of quick diagnostics tools is important as well. These tools will make it easier for physicians to differentiate between bacterial and viral infections and provide the appropriate drug at the proper dosage. And speaking of drugs, we need new medications to slow down antibiotic resistance. Unfortunately, this is a lengthy and expensive process that is limited by various barriers, resulting in little progress over the last several years.