The warnings from the World Health Organisation about overuse of antibiotics and the increasing emergence of so called “superbugs” are becoming more and more urgent. Their recent warning leaves no doubt at all that the world is heading rapidly toward a “post antibiotic” era.
In Europe, 25,000 people a year already die from infections which are resistant to drugs of last resort. “Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,” said Dr Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director general for health security.
“Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier, and benefit from modern medicine. Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating.”
In the UK, health officials have already responded to a significant rise in hospital infections caused by a strain of drug resistant bacteria known as carbaenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae (CPE), which caused 600 infections 2013, compared to just five in 2003. Public Health England is monitoring the situation on a national level. Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, has previously compared the risk of rising antibiotic resistance in the UK to the threat posed by terrorism.
Antibiotic-resistance most often arises when commercial antibiotics kill good bacteria that protect the body from infection alongside bacteria that cause illness–setting the stage for drug-resistant bacteria to flourish and take over. Some drug-resistant bacteria are then able to exchange genes with other bacteria, spreading resistance and helping sideline drugs normally capable of treating infection.
Now some further comment:
The warning signs about antibiotic usage have been present for many years now, but are we listening?
Here are some points worth considering in your health management in this coming era:
- Understanding and managing you and your family’s health at an informed baseline level will become an increasing priority and an added layer of protection.
- Do not use antibiotics for trivial infections; they should be reserved for life-threatening situations and cases where there is a proven bacterial cause (and hence a tailored antibiotic).
- Help your own immune system with what you eat and supporting your gastrointestinal function – which is where the majority of immune system problems begin.
- Use natural methods and healthcare products wherever possible – and not just as ‘treatment’ when you have an infection.