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Overuse of antibiotic poses serious threat to humans

Published : Wednesday, 22 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 454

Overuse of antibiotic poses serious threat to humans

Overuse of antibiotic poses serious threat to humans

Antibiotic, crucial for saving lives, is now going to pose a threat to human civilization. The widespread misuse and overuse of these drugs in the name of treatment contribute to the weakening of the immune system, leading to the emergence of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial medicines. This resistance can transfer between animals and humans in both directions. Consequently, the efficacy of antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines diminishes, rendering infections challenging or impossible to treat. This elevates the risk of disease, severe illness, disability, and death.

Over the last 15 years, there has been a surge in AMR, coupled with a decline in the rate of new antibiotic development. The overuse of antibiotics in the name of treatment continues to compromise the immune system that poses a significant global risk in terms of mortality. Alarming statistics from a World Health Organization (WHO) report indicate that AMR directly caused 1.27 million global deaths in 2019. This is so alarming. Antibiotics are increasingly getting ineffective in treating various operations and diseases, elevating the risk to life and escalating medical expenses.

AMR also poses a significant global risk in terms of economic burden. The World Bank estimates that by 2050, AMR could result in an additional US$1 trillion in healthcare costs and annual GDP losses of US$1 trillion to US$3.4 trillion by 2030. This is a warn, a prediction for all countries in the world. But this prediction is becoming reality both in developed and developing countries alike.

Many mild bacterial infections resolve on their own without antibiotics. Antibiotics are not needed for viral infections like colds and flu, yet their usage is common in rural areas. In these regions, people take antibiotics for common illnesses to save on doctor fees.Physicians, too, sometimes prescribe antibiotics for quick recovery. It is crucial to recognize that unnecessary antibiotic use diminishes their effectiveness in the future.

People are seen taking antibiotic without doctors prescription or stopping taking antibiotic without completing course of five or seven days. This tendency ultimately woos the superbugs in the body. In 2015, a study conducted by four Bangladeshi researchers on 1500 patients showed that, on average, 61.13 percent of patients were prescribed antibiotics for their illness. Of these prescriptions, approximately 33.80 percent were issued by unauthorized doctors, the findings were published by the European Journal of Scientific Research.

The increasing prevalence of superbugs is a very concerning trend. This rapid increase is alarming and underscores the urgency of addressing the problem.In 2010, a study revealed the detection of superbugsin 6.50 percent of cases, but by 2018, this alarming percentage increased to 11-14 percent. The rapid escalation of this trend is a cause for concern. Analyzing data from 2010 to 2018, the microbiology department at Shishu Hospital found superbugs in approximately 11.30 percent of tested microorganisms during the same period.

Besides, the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in livestock is contributing to the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) bacteria, which can be transmitted through human contact with animals. Particularly worrisome is the widespread use of certain antibiotics in poultry and fisheries. A recent study in Chattogram revealed that around 54.55 percent of broiler birds (poultry chicken) were infected with multi-drug resistant bacteria.

A recent study conducted at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) reveals that a majority of clinically important drugs commonly used to combat infections from microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, have lost their efficacy in curing patients. The Department of Microbiology and Immunology (DMI) at BSMMU conducted the study, testing the efficacy of 27-36 drugs against 15,751 microorganisms collected from 72,670 patient samples between January 2022 and June 2023.

The findings, shared at an event at BSMMU, indicate a "silent health disaster,". We are going to face disaster very soon. The World Health Organizations 2019 AWaRe classification categorizes antibiotics into three groups: "Access Group," "Watch Group," and "Reserve Group." "Access Group" is used for a wide range of primary level infections, Watch Group is used against higher resistance bacteria. Reserve Group is used when all alternatives fail. But most worrying news is that doctors in hospital are now using Reserve Group antibiotic like Colistin due to ineffectiveness of "Access Group," and "Watch Group in certain cases. What if this Reserve Group antibioticbecomes ineffective?

The study reflects the national situation, with potential disastrous consequences if resistant microorganisms spread countrywide.We need to ensure the judicious use of antibiotics. It is very important for physicians to prescribe antibiotics based on necessary diagnoses and staying informed about the latest resistance patterns. Legal restrictions should also be conducted on the sale of antibiotic without a prescription to curb indiscriminate use.

Basically, there is no new antibiotic in the pipeline for future use. Even the development of effective new antibiotics takes time, increasing the risk in this area. The situation will be dire and dangerous for the civilization until new effective antibiotic is brought to light.

So we have to be aware of the use of antibiotics now. Authorities should adopt integrated programs to effectively introduce antimicrobial surveillance in humans, fish and livestock. The sale of antibiotics without prescription should be stopped. In this case, drug vendors should create awareness among all people about antimicrobial resistance. If the rules of antibiotic consumption are not followed properly, it becomes ineffective in the human body and the bacteria of the related disease transforms itself into a new strain, making the effectiveness of the antibiotic ineffective. We should avoid taking antibiotics on the advice of anyone other than a doctor. Antibiotics should be taken for the full duration once started and cannot be stopped midway.

The writer is a  banker and columnist

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