Antibiotics have transformed the world of medicine. For example, they increased the survival rate of children with pneumonia from 10% to 90%.
In today’s world, antibiotics allow patients to receive chemotherapy, hip replacement, organ transplants, care of preterm babies and many more medical procedures.
Now we have a major crisis which parallels ‘Climate Change’. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria survive exposure to antibiotics that were designed to kill them or arrest the infection. Thereafter, the antibiotic resistant bacteria or superbugs grow and multiply and cause infection within the patient even when exposed to antibiotics. Thus, certain antibiotics can no longer be used to successfully treat certain infections. This has a significant health impact which results in increased mortality. This is reflected by the increase in MRSA and Gram-negative super bugs which are currently spreading around the world which result in 700,000 people dying from superbugs globally.
The growth of the ‘superbugs’ can also be attributed to animal farming. 70 % of antibiotics are used in animal farming for increased intensive animal production. Antibiotics are used in farming to:
- produce high animal density farming
- move the younger animals away from their mothers earlier to increase the volume of animals to market
- be added to low-quality animal feed as it is cheaper and;
- help transport animals over long distances.
These strategies help provide cheaper food as it keeps down the cost of production.
Holistic approach required
To combat the dangerous effects of these superbugs we need to follow a holistic healthcare treatment model which involves:
- Better use of antibiotics in humans and animals
- Focus on prevention
- Better education for the public
- More R& D – no new antibiotic has come to market from pharma in the last 30 years
- Better animal farming protocols
- Alternative Medicine treatments – e.g. vaccines and preventative healthcare measures
- Hand hygiene and sanitation
- Global surveillance strategies
- Increased research
- Better diagnostics