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  • Writer's pictureEnid Gonzalez-Orta

How You Can Protect Yourself and Future Generations from Superbugs by Jaylen B.


Jaylen recording data during BIO 145 lab.

Antibiotics have long been hailed as miracle drugs in the battle against infectious diseases, capable of saving countless lives. However, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria also known as superbugs threatens to destroy the progress we have made over the last century and render these lifesaving medications ineffective. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria evolve and develop mechanisms to withstand the effects of antibiotics. This process has been accelerated by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human medicine and agriculture. As bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, infections become more challenging to treat, leading to serious illnesses, treatment failure, and higher mortality rates. The superbugs that can cause a costly trip to the hospital can be transferred to you in all manner of ways such as public surfaces, recently sick people, and your food.


What You Can Do


 One of our best solutions to this problem is antibiotic stewardship. Antibiotic stewardship is our best defense against this growing threat, but it's a practice that requires collective effort and global awareness. Antibiotic stewardship is a set of practices and policies aimed at optimizing the use of antibiotics to preserve their effectiveness for future generations. It involves responsible prescribing by healthcare professionals, patient education, and community-wide initiatives to raise awareness about the consequences of antibiotic misuse. We can slow the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria by ensuring that antibiotics are used only when necessary and appropriate. But antibiotic stewardship is not just the responsibility of healthcare providers; it's something we all should practice. Patients play a crucial role in antibiotic stewardship by understanding when antibiotics are needed and adhering to prescribed treatment regimens. Simple things, such as completing the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed and not sharing or saving antibiotics for future use, can make a significant impact.


However, healthcare systems around the world do not always have the resources or infrastructure to implement antibiotic stewardship programs. In low and middle-income countries, access to essential antibiotics may be limited, and healthcare providers may face challenges in diagnosing infections and prescribing appropriate treatments. As a result, antibiotics may be overused or misused, contributing to the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Despite these challenges, raising awareness about antibiotic resistance and promoting antibiotic stewardship remains critical. By advocating for responsible antibiotic use, and investing in research and innovation, we can protect our last line of defense against infectious diseases. Together, we can ensure that antibiotics remain effective tools in our medical arsenal and safeguard the health of current and future generations.


References

1.     Rolfe, R., Jr, Kwobah, C., Muro, F., Ruwanpathirana, A., Lyamuya, F., Bodinayake, C., Nagahawatte, A., Piyasiri, B., Sheng, T., Bollinger, J., Zhang, C., Ostbye, T., Ali, S., Drew, R., Kussin, P., Anderson, D. J., Woods, C. W., Watt, M. H., Mmbaga, B. T., & Tillekeratne, L. G. (2021). Barriers to implementing antimicrobial stewardship programs in three low- and middle-income country tertiary care settings: findings from a multi-site qualitative study. Antimicrobial resistance and infection control, 10(1), 60. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13756-021-00929-4

2.     Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021b, November 23). 2019 antibiotic resistance threats report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/biggest-threats.html

4.     Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, September 21). Core elements of antibiotic stewardship for health departments. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/core-elements/health-departments.html

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