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World on the road to post-antibiotic era

It is estimated that more than 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant infections, though it could be much higher because there is no global system to monitor these deaths. There has been trouble tracking those deaths in places where they are monitored, like in the US, where tens of thousands of deaths have not been attributed to superbugs.

A recent study states that number could rise to around 10 million by 2050. When antibiotics don’t work, they lead to long-lasting illnesses, more visits to the doctors, extended hospital stays and the need for more expensive and toxic antibiotics. The use of antibiotics started during the First World War.

The world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era. The infections and minor injuries that were treatable will not be treatable once again. As a result of this a large number of people pass away.

It has also been noticed that bacteria can adapt themselves according to the medicine being administered and create resistance against them.

Once, bacteria could be killed with low potency drugs but killing the same bacteria now requires high potency medicines, which is why it is feared that soon, antibiotics will not be able to kill bacteria. Children are at a greater risk as they are given more antibiotics.

Antibiotics are also given to animals and used in food production to prevent, control and treat diseases and they may produce resistant bacteria transferable to humans.

Resistant bacteria survive and continue to increase, causing more harm and also spread to others.


The wrong use and excessive use of antibiotics in humans and animals as well as in the production of food have promoted the widespread distribution of resistant organisms in Pakistan.

The use of antibiotics in humans has increased by 36 percent in a few decades. Pakistan has 90 percent rate for unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, which is becoming the reason for upper respiratory tract infections.

According to one of the survey in Pakistan antibiotics are prescribed to 76 percent children, although many children have no need of it.

According to survey report on 200 adults 19.5 percent use antibiotics often, 23 percent purchase antibiotic without prescriptions, 52.5 percent never seek advice from health care professionals. 17 percent adults not follow complete course of antibiotics, 26.5 percent experienced serious side effects from antibiotics, 41 percent don’t know that the misuse of antibiotic is harmful, while 27.5 percent thinks that the antibiotics they used will be effective in future for the same infection. 39 percent adults refills the previous prescription with antibiotics for the same infections they experienced in past whereas 25.5 percent adults share their prescription of antibiotic with others.

Irrational use of antibiotics is very common in our community. Physicians are prescribing irrational broad spectrum antibiotics to children even for viral infections too.

Adult are using antibiotics without prescription. Refilling and sharing of prescription is also common in our city. Here is myth that one antibiotic that proves beneficial to one patient; they share it with others who are suffering from same condition.

The use of antibiotics for animals has grown significantly and is estimated to further increase by 70 percent by 2050 to meet the rising demands of the growing world population.


Scientists have known for more than half a century that patients could develop resistance to the drugs used to treat them. One of the first people to sound the alarm was Alexander Fleming, who is credited with creating the first antibiotic, penicillin, in 1928. He cautioned of the impending crisis while accepting his Nobel Prize in 1945.

The first new antibiotic to be discovered in nearly 30 years has been hailed as a ‘paradigm shift’ in the fight against the growing resistance to drugs.

Teixobactin has been found to treat many common bacterial infections such as tuberculosis, septicaemia and C. diff, and could be available within five years.

Shu Lam, a 25-year-old PhD student at the University of Melbourne in Australia, has developed a star-shaped polymer that can kill six different superbug strains without antibiotics, simply by ripping apart their cell walls.

The research has been published in Nature Microbiology, and according to Smith, it’s already being hailed by scientists in the field as “a breakthrough that could change the face of modern medicine”.

All 193 UN member states have agreed to combat the proliferation of drug-resistant infections, estimated to kill more than 700,000 people each year.

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said antimicrobial resistance is a “fundamental threat” to global health and safety at the first general assembly meeting on drug-resistant bacteria.

Signatories to the UN declaration committed to encouraging innovation in antibiotic development, increasing public awareness of the threat and developing surveillance and regulatory systems on the use and sales of antimicrobial medicine for humans and animals.

The World Health Organization Director General, Margaret Chan, said that it was imperative for consumers and medical providers to rely less on antibiotics for disease treatment. She also called for more innovation in antibiotic development, noting that only two new classes of antibiotics reached the market in the past half century.

With few replacement products in the pipeline, the world is heading to a post-antibiotic era in which common infections, especially those caused by gram-negative bacteria, will once again kill.”

New treatment can work on antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’, such as MRSA have developed a pioneering new treatment to prevent bacterial skin infections, which could be used in the battle against ‘superbugs’, such as MRSA.A digital representation of MRSA bacteria.

The new treatment, developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield and funded by Age UK, is a new way to prevent skin wounds, such as bed-sores and ulcers, becoming infected. This new treatment has been proven to work on antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, which is now one of the biggest threats to global healthcare and medicine.

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