Antibiotic Resistance Linked to 1.27 Million Deaths Globally in 2019, Warns Dr. John Kariuki

Antibiotic resistance is a "silent pandemic" causing 1.27M deaths in 2019. Experts warn against misuse, urge responsible use to combat this growing global health threat.

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Muhammad Jawad
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Antibiotic Resistance Linked to 1.27 Million Deaths Globally in 2019, Warns Dr. John Kariuki

Antibiotic Resistance Linked to 1.27 Million Deaths Globally in 2019, Warns Dr. John Kariuki

Dr. John Kariuki, a leading expert on antimicrobial resistance, has issued a serious warning about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. According to Dr. Kariuki, the inappropriate use of antibiotics, such as taking them for too short a time, at too low a dose, or for the wrong disease, is fueling the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that antibiotic resistance was directly responsible for 1.27 million global deaths in 2019.

Antibiotic resistance has become a "silent pandemic," with the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans, animals, and plants being the main drivers of this issue. Dr. Kariuki emphasizes the importance of using antibiotics responsibly to prevent further spread of resistant bacteria and protect public health. He cautions against buying unprescribed antibiotics, underdosing, and using leftover medicine, as these practices contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

Why this matters: The growing threat of antibiotic resistance poses a significant risk to global health, with the potential to undermine the effectiveness of life-saving medications. Addressing this issue requires a coordinated effort from healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the general public to promote responsible antibiotic use and prevent the further spread of resistant bacteria.

The widespread practice of buying antibiotics without a prescription is a major concern, particularly in countries like Bangladesh. Physicians warn that this situation could lead to a "bad situation" in the next 5-10 years, as bacteria become increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Measures such as stopping the sale of antibiotics without a prescription, using red coloring on antibiotic packets, and including lessons on antibiotic resistance in textbooks have been suggested to address this issue.

Researchers have also discovered that nearly a quarter of drugs that aren't normally prescribed as antibiotics, such as medications used to treat cancer, diabetes, and depression, can kill bacteria at doses typically prescribed for people. Understanding the mechanisms underlying how certain drugs are toxic to bacteria may have far-reaching implications for medicine, as nonantibiotics that kill bacteria in different ways from standard antibiotics could serve as leads in developing new antibiotics. However, if nonantibiotics kill bacteria in similar ways to known antibiotics, their prolonged use might inadvertently promote antibiotic resistance.

In a study conducted on rabbit farms in Northern Portugal, researchers found high levels of resistance to critically important antibiotics, such as tetracycline, ampicillin, aztreonam, and streptomycin, among Escherichia coli strains isolated from the farms. Multidrug resistance was common, with strains showing resistance to all antibiotics tested. The findings raise concerns about the extensive usage of antibiotics in rabbit farming and the urgent need to establish active surveillance systems to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Dr. Kariuki recommends promoting hygiene, vaccination, and research and development to combat antibiotic resistance. He emphasizes the need for responsible antibiotic use, stating, "We must use antibiotics responsibly to prevent further spread of resistant bacteria and protect public health. This means not buying unprescribed antibiotics, not underdosing, and not using leftover medicine." The WHO's report on the 1.27 million global deaths directly linked to antibiotic resistance in 2019 serves as a serious reminder of the urgent need to address this growing threat.

Key Takeaways

  • Antibiotic resistance causes 1.27M global deaths annually, a "silent pandemic".
  • Misuse of antibiotics in humans, animals, and plants drives resistance.
  • Buying antibiotics without prescription, underdosing, and reusing are major concerns.
  • Nonantibiotics can kill bacteria, but prolonged use may promote resistance.
  • Promoting hygiene, vaccination, and R&D can combat antibiotic resistance.