Antibiotics are a miracle of modern medicine, contributing to the control of infectious diseases and saving countless lives.
But too much of a good thing has led to a global problem. The misuse of these drugs by health workers and patients has accelerated the pace of antibiotic resistance, one of the greatest threats to global health and development.
Patients and those working within the healthcare industry need to work together to contain this growing problem. For health professionals, this means being judicious when it comes to prescribing and dispensing antibiotics. For individuals, this means helping to prevent infection through a variety of measures (such as vaccinations and regular hand washing) while being responsible about the use of antibiotics.
The repercussions of antibiotic resistance are wide-ranging— a decreased ability to treat infection and illnesses in people, animals and plants can lead to increased illness and death, increased cost and length of treatments, and increased side effects from the use of Read more
Today, some diseases seem to be from another era. While this may be surprising, tuberculosis currently represents a major global health problem.
All it takes is a look at the figures to realise how serious the situation is. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 8 million people developed tuberculosis in 2012, while the number of worldwide deaths reached 1.3 million.
If we focus on the MDR data (Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis), whose treatment with current drugs does not usually provide good results, we will find 450,000 new cases in 2012 and a total of 170,000 deaths globally.
Tuberculosis: a disease that continues to be present in our lives
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis germ, which mainly affects our lungs and can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing or even casual conversations. In addition, tuberculosis poses an even higher risk of infection in patients with a weakened immune system.
Some symptoms of tuberculosis:
Severe coughing that can last for several weeks
Coughing up Read more
For years scientists have been warning us of the problems derived from the overuse of antibiotics. This has been aggravated in recent times by the high-risk practices carried out by numerous farms using these drugs to fatten of cattle and treat diseases even before the animals have suffered them.
The dangerous nature of these activities has been made evident by the fact that some bacteria have become more resistant to antibiotics, thus overriding their original effectiveness and, consequently, increasing the risk to patients.
Abuse of antibiotic treatments
According to the US federal agency CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), as many as 23,000 deaths are caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria per year.
In recent years, the concern surrounding this issue has made it common practice for healthcare professionals to stop prescribing antibiotics for minor illnesses. However, patients do not always respond well to this decision and sometimes find it hard to understand the reasons behind it.
The truth is that these antibiotic resistant "superbugs" have proven to be a real health hazard, due in part to the added problem of the indiscriminate use of antibiotics Read more