The rise in the levels of Antimicrobial resistance should be a concern to every person in the world and not just the Government or health care professionals. AMR is one of the biggest threats to human development, food security and global health today, and its effects can be felt by anyone in any part of the world, from the most urban environments in first world countries to backwaters in a third world country.
Although the resistance of bacteria to antimicrobials can happen naturally, our activities of misusing antibiotics have helped speed up the process. Super strains of diseases such as gonorrhea, tuberculosis and pneumonia that were easily treated with antibiotics in the past are now resistant to a good number of antibiotics, this should concern both governments and individuals. Not only does AMR drastically increase mortality rates, but it also translates to higher costs of treatments and longer periods of hospital visits.
What each of us can do about AMR
There is a lot that we can all do to help cut down the fast rate at which AMR is spreading. Even what seems like the tiniest actions like washing your hands often and practising safe sex can make an impact in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Individuals can also work to reduce the spread of infections and increase our control of such diseases. As individuals, we can
- ensure we only use antibiotics when they are prescribed by a trained professional
- Refrain from sharing your prescriptions with others
- Try not to pressure your health workers for antibiotics when they do not prescribe you any
- Reduce the incidence of infection through effective sanitation, hygiene and infection prevention measures like washing foods properly, getting all your vaccinations done on time and avoiding contact with sick people
- Avoid food that has been over treated with antibiotics like livestock.
Government and Policymakers can
- Reduce emergence of antimicrobial resistance through antibiotic stewardship, rational use, Initiate hospital/departmental stewardship programs, Dedicate health care workers for infection control and antibiotic stewardship.
- Develop treatment protocols, antibiotic stewardship, infection control protocols and procedure, water sanitation and hygiene
- Interrupt transmission of resistant organisms through infection prevention and control.
- Develop and use antibiotic guidelines and policy
- Optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines in human and animal health
- Aim for more targeted prescribing of antimicrobials; Antibiotic prescription should not be open
- Strengthen antibiotic susceptibility and resistance testing
- Set-up National advisory committee on antibiotic resistance and infection prevention and control that is cross-cutting and involves all stakeholders
- Advocacy and public awareness campaigns; carry out multi-sector dialogue on antibiotic resistance, enlightenment and empowerment of prescribers, and public enlightenment on the effects of abusing antibiotics
The healthcare professionals in different countries can help prevent the spread of infections by only prescribing antibiotics when necessary, ask these 5 questions before prescribing an antimicrobial
- Is there good clinical evidence of an infection
- Will it respond to therapy
- Have relevant sample been taken
- Should microbiology results be obtained before treatment is commenced
- Which antibiotic should be chosen
- Clinical condition should be amenable to antimicrobial chemotherapy
- Specimens should be collected for microbiological testing
- The organism should be susceptible to the antibiotic
- The dose should be adequate
- The antibiotic should reach the infection
Industries such as the agricultural industry can do their part by only medicating animals with antibiotics according to the vets’ subscription and try to use other alternatives to treating animals like properly preparing their food, keeping them in optimum hygienic conditions and ensuring they are well taken care of.
The healthcare industries can embark on more research activities on how to handle cases of disease resistant bacteria and produce more effective antibiotics to treat them. All healthcare institutions should have antibiotic stewardship and infection control program commensurate to its level of care,
If we are able to curb the spread of AMR on time before it becomes a widespread epidemic, the giant strides in medicine will not be put to risk and humanity can be saved from another highly fatal medical case like what we experienced with HIV.