BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Antibiotic resistance and global health



Antibiotic resistance, also known as antimicrobial resistance or drug resistance is a situation where microorganisms resist the effects of antibiotics designed to kill them. When antibiotics lose their effectiveness, we lose the ability to treat infections and control public health threats. Many medical procedures such as joint replacements, organ transplants, cancer therapy and treatment of chronic diseases are dependent on the possibility to combat infections using antibiotics. Therefore, it is important that these antibiotics retain their effectiveness to ensure the success of these procedures and treatments.

The discovery of Antibiotics remains one of the wonders and breakthroughs of the 20th century. In 1928, Penicillin- the first ever commercial antibiotic was discovered by Alexander Fleming to combat micro-organisms. Subsequently, many other antibiotics have been discovered and used as drugs in the treatment, management and cure of several microbial infections and diseases. The effectiveness and importance of antibiotics cannot be overstressed; however, antimicrobial resistance has been a constant hindrance to their effectiveness.  The unique and unusual genetic capabilities and aptitude of microbes takes advantage of the abuse and overuse of antibiotics. These organisms use resistance genes and horizontal gene transmission to develop several mechanisms of resistance for antibiotics developed and used clinically, agriculturally and otherwise.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when microbes develop the capacity to survive drugs designed to kill them. Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant germs difficult and sometimes impossible, to treat. They often require longer hospital stays or visits, additional follow-ups and other expensive alternatives. Antibiotics have been abused in so many ways including using them when not necessary, overusing them in treating all types of infections, taking too much of them and imbuing them into different agricultural systems, animals, and food products. These various forms of abuse have unlocked the potential for bacteria to evolve into resistant strains that can survive antibiotic that previously could destroy them. Microbes- like most creatures will always find survival strategies and device innovative ways to resist new drugs. In fact, more organisms share their resistance with one another, making it harder to deal with them. To achieve a complete restoration of therapeutic use and effectiveness of antibiotics, there is a need to reduce and end antibiotic resistance. Specifically, one way to achieve this is through creative approaches in the discovery of new antibiotics and their controlled introduction to treatment.

Antibiotic resistance affects people at any stage of life; it also affects health and agriculture- making it one of the most critical public health problems in the world. In the US, about 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and at least 23,000 people die as a result annually. People at greater risk of these infections are especially those already suffering chronic illnesses.

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