Pakistan is already faced with a myriad of health concerns, and a new one is on the horizon. With increase in irresponsible use of antibiotics by both general physicians and self medication, our nation is facing the prospect of an imminent medical disaster.
Antimicrobials and antibiotics fight bugs such as disease causing viruses and bacteria. Before the discovery of antibiotics, people would die of simple infections that now can just be treated with a penicillin drug. However, due to careless use of antibiotics, the bacteria have developed resistance against these medication, and can no longer be treated by them.
Common causes of antibiotic resistance include: over prescribing antibiotics, misdiagnosing diseases, and not following proper protocols in prescribing medication for bacterial diseases. Other causes include: lack of healthcare facilities, false doctors, false advertisement of medication, substandard medication, lack of clean water, poor hygiene and most importantly self-medication. Patients fail to understand that a mosquito should not be killed with a canon, thus simple infections like sore throat should not be treated with second choice antibiotics that are reserved for worse diseases.
The result of antibiotic resistant is that we are running out of drugs to treat simple infections. Where once we could easily treat infections like pneumonia, gonorrhea, typhoid and salmonella, now we don’t have the drugs for these agents. The threat is so real infact, that in Pakistan, we are facing an endemic of resistant strains of typhoid causing bacteria. Global organizations like WHO and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are greatly concerned by this development. Pakistan is already amongst the countries that face multi drug resistant form of tuberculosis as well. Now, we are facing a feco-oral infection—typhoid–that is resistant to the top three drugs of choice. Increasingly difficult to treat are the hospital acquired infections that turn serious enough to cause death.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes antibiotic resistance as an emerging global threat. It has therefore put into place, a set of strategies and recommendations designed to control, if not minimize, this threat. Antibiotic resistance poses a threat to the extraordinary health benefits that we have achieved so far with antibiotics. Pakistan’s Federal Health Department has also formed a National Policy for the Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance in Pakistan. Pakistan Antimicrobial Resistance Network (PARN) is also at work to fight and spread awareness about antibiotic resistance.
There needs to be spread more awareness regarding this issue among the masses, at least to combat the trend of self-medicating, thus further spreading resistant bacteria. We need to recognize that stronger and newer antibiotics should be reserved for cases when we greatly need medication. Otherwise, we run the risk of creating resistance for the newer drugs as well. Furthermore, better hygiene, clean environment and better personal habits can prevent many infectious diseases from occurring in the first place. Moreover, correct diagnosis, prudent prescription and necessary tests like drug sensitivity can all help mitigate this drug resistance.
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