In 2014, a large-scale study conducted in the UK concluded that antimicrobial resistance, which is among the biggest health concerns, will be the cause of over fifty million deaths by the year 2050. Despite major efforts to control the problem, antimicrobial resistance is still rising in the world today.
Though the issue is not discussed as often as other health epidemics, including the coronavirus pandemic, it can cause the worst health crisis in the future. This is because it involves different types of pathogens including fungi, viruses, and bacteria.
For infections caused by these pathogens, different treatment drugs or antimicrobials are used. However, the present antimicrobials may no longer be effective as a growing number of pathogens are developing resistance.
This means that infections that were once considered harmless and easily treated by using antimicrobials may become deadly. Out of all antimicrobials, antibiotics, and antibiotic resistance are the biggest threat.
The development of antibiotics after the discovery and commercialization of penicillin in the 1940s has helped in controlling a number of infections. With time, the process of the creation of new antibiotics slowed down.
At the same time, there was a rise in resistant bacteria throughout the world. As a result, the problem has now become so big that there is an urgent need to develop new treatment methodologies.
In addition, there is also a need to raise awareness regarding the increase in antimicrobial resistance at a global level in order to control the abuse and mindless prescription or consumption of antibiotics.
This is because a part of the problem is people taking the medicines even when it is not needed. The practice of taking too many antibiotics is more prevalent in countries where they are available over-the-counter.
Over time, taking antibiotics consistently can result in bacteria becoming developing resistance.
One of the primary examples of antibiotic resistance is that of resistant bacteria of the Neisseria genus. Currently, two species of the bacteria N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis are among the biggest threats.
Both the World Health Organizations and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have specifically listed N. gonorrhoeae as a top research priority and an ‘urgent threat’.
According to research on the bacterium, it is resistant to multiple antibiotics including tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, tetracycline, erythromycin, and penicillin.
Now, doctors only prescribe cefixime, azithromycin, and ceftriaxone for the treatment of Gonorrhea. However, in 2017, there were also reports of the bacterium also being resistant to one of these three antibiotics in many cases.
This means that there are chances of the bacterium also becoming resistant to the remaining three treatment options very soon. Therefore, major efforts led by different health organizations are being made to create new antibiotics.
By doing so, not only can the threat of resistant Gonorrhea be eliminated but other rising infections can also be controlled before spreading.
Although antimicrobial resistance has been discussed for years by medical experts, it can still be controlled if there are collaborative efforts around the world. Like in all other health crises, the local masses and health organizations both need to play their part equally.