Bacterial infection is a proliferation of a harmful strain of bacteria on or inside the body. Bacteria can infect any area of the body.
Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines.
Naturally, antibiotic resistance occurs but humans have increased the rate of occurrence over time due to different activities they engage in.
Effects of antibiotic resistance.
• Costly hospital care: Infections with drug-resistant bacteria may lead to longer and more costly hospital care, and increase the risk of dying from the infection. Dangerous, resistant bacteria known as "superbugs" are being reported.
• Post antibiotic era: According to World Health Organization (WHO), A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and salmonellosis – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective. Without urgent action, we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill.
How do bacteria become resistant to antibiotics?
They become resistant by adapting their structure or function as a defense mechanism. The antibiotic may have worked effectively before the resistance occurred. The adaption helps the bacteria to fend off the killing activity of the antibiotic.
Contributing factors to antibiotic resistance
• Over-prescription of antibiotics or when patients ingest unprescribed antibiotics
• Patients not finishing the entire antibiotic course
• Overuse of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming, which are later consumed by a high percentage of the population
• Poor infection control in health care settings.
• Poor hygiene and sanitation due to overpopulation especially in urban areas.
• Absence of new antibiotics being discovered.
Individuals, policymakers, agricultural sectors, food industries, health professionals all have a responsibility in preventing antibiotics resistance in our world and these responsibilities include:
• Agricultural sector should ensure that farmers only give antibiotics to animals under veterinary supervision.
• Not use antibiotics for growth promotion or to prevent diseases in healthy animals.
• Health industry should Invest in research and development of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics and other tools.
• Health professionals should talk to patients about how to take antibiotics correctly, antibiotic resistance and the dangers of misuse.
• Only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are needed, according to current guidelines.
• Policymakers should ensure a robust national action plan to tackle antibiotic resistance is in place.
• Never demand antibiotics if your health worker says you don’t need them.
• Always follow your health worker’s advice when using antibiotics.
• Never share or use leftover antibiotics.
• Prevent infections by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically.
Written by: Monsurah Ahmad and Akanmu Adeola.