Superbug is a term used to describe the newly evolved bacterial species resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotics are used for combating the infectious diseases but their excessive use and misuse have given rise to the formation of superbugs graving a major problem worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization, in a short period of just one-year superbug has occupied a place in the world by developing 4.9 million people resistant to the drug. In some cases, these infections result in death.
Antibiotic resistance specifically deals with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Usually, the more often antibiotics are used, the more bacteria adapt and find new ways to survive, which means they become resistant to antibiotics. Instead of being killed by the antibiotics, some bacteria survive and continue to multiply, causing more harm. Antibiotics are used in the treatment of many diseases and surgical procedure. Examples include organ transplants, blood infections, complicated deliveries, pneumonia and cancer care. Therefore, patients with infections caused by these drug-resistant bacteria are at an increased risk of poorer clinical outcomes, including death.
Causes of antibiotic resistance
- Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change and become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause
- Overprescribing of antibiotics
- Patients not completing their treatment
- Poor infection control in hospital and clinics
- Lack of hygiene and poor sanitation
- Lack of new antibiotics being developed
Contributing factors of drug resistance
- Antibiotics are overused and misused in people
- Self-administration of drug or professional oversight. Examples of misuse include when they are taken by people with viral infections like colds and flu
- Inadequate infection control practices
- lack of affordable diagnostics that give accurate and real-time results
- Substandard/falsified medicines
Ways to slow down antibiotics resistance
Antibiotics resistance is a serious global public health issue that needs to be addressed immediately and everyone has a role to play. WHO has recommended some actions which are listed below:
- Only use antibiotics when prescribed by a certified healthcare professional. Follow Instructions, always take the pills as instructed because it is very important that not to take antibiotics for longer than you need to. Complete the course of antibiotic pills
- Never share or use leftover antibiotics
- Prevent infections by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically, prevention is the best strategy to avoid colds and flu by consuming foods with anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties such as vegetables, green tea and fresh fruits
- Improve surveillance of antibiotic-resistant infections
- Regulate and promote the appropriate use and disposal of quality medicines
- Make information available about the impact of antibiotic resistance
Healthcare industry: Invest in research and development of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics and other tools.
- Prevent infections by ensuring hand hygiene, instruments, and environmental cleanliness
- Only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are needed
- Report antibiotic-resistant infections
- Talk to the patients about how to take antibiotics correctly, antibiotic resistance and the dangers of misuse
- Talk to patients about preventing infections
- Scientists to step up the development of new antibiotics and vaccines as well as diagnostic tests to identify drug-resistant bacteria
- Public health officials to monitor antibiotic resistance and track its spread
- Doctors to help stop unnecessary antibiotic use and develop safer practices in hospitals and clinics