Antibiotic resistance is very, very real and is happening everywhere right now. It can affect anyone, at any age, living anywhere, the World Health Organisation says in its first global report on antibiotic resistance. Without urgent, coordinated action, the world is moving towards a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which are treatable, can become killers again.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria changes themselves to escape the effect of antibiotics, making them ineffective. Effective antibiotics have been a pillar, enabling longer and healthier lives. The WHO report focuses on antibiotic resistance in nine different bacteria responsible for serious diseases like blood infections (sepsis), diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea. The report says that resistance to the antibiotics used as last resort treatment in common bacterial infections, has spread to all over the world.
In some countries, due to resistance, antibiotics do not work in case of more than 50% patients. The report also notes resistance to common antibiotics for urinary tract infections caused by E coli – fluoroquinolones. In the 1980s, when these drugs were first used, drug resistance was close to zero. Today, more than 50% patients in many countries do not respond to it. Treatment failure in the last- resort treatment for gonorrhoea – third generation cephalosporins – is now confirmed in Austria, Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK. Notably, more than 10 lakh people are infected with gonorrhoea each day.
Antibiotic resistance makes people remain sick for long and increases the risk of death e.g. people with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) are 64 % more likely to die than people with a non-resistant infection. Resistance also increases the cost of healthcare with lengthier hospital stays and more intensive care. Antibiotic resistance is a burning medical issue in South-East Asia, having 25% of the global population.