Grave future of antibiotics

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John had recently been complaining of abdominal pains and upon hospital examination was scheduled for an appendectomy – removal of the appendix. It is ideally a low risk surgery. However, he did not make it out of the hospital due to a post-surgical bacterial infection.

This is a hypothetical scenario but we are most certainly inching closer to it if the current trend of antibiotic abuse continues. First line drugs for diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis are quickly becoming ineffectual. A small graze on your leg might be the reason for an amputation because there will be no drugs to keep infections at bay. We will drop like flies and leave earth in very undignified ways.

Antibiotic resistance comes about when bacteria mutate; rendering the drugs previously used against them either ineffective or less effective. It is currently classified as a serious threat to global public health by the World Health Organization. In retrospect, no antibiotic has been discovered in the past approximately 25 years.

There are several contributing factors. In no particular order, we have poor health policies that allow purchase of antibiotics without prescription, more often than not coupled with poor adherence to dosage. Health services are still relatively expensive and most people opt for over the counter medicines without a hospital examination of the illness. On the other end lie unscrupulous health and pharmaceutical professionals who stand to make profits by prescribing certain drugs. Its twin evil being unlicensed pharmaceuticals that do not follow prescription protocols. Farming practices like giving domestic animals prophylaxis antibiotics cannot be ignored; as there is an intersection between veterinary and human medicine.

The country’s health policies may not be in your favour, but the least you could do is effectively complete (necessary) antibiotic dosages as prescribed by a medical doctor… not the pharmacist or roadside medicine man you randomly inquire from. The magnitude of it may not be perfectly expressed here but let us ensure we are not busy trying to work ourselves back to pre-penicillin era.

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