Guest Author – Ramanan Laxminarayan, PhD
Director, Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy
To many, antibiotic resistance may seem like an evergreen issue that reappears in the news cycle periodically. However, recent reports of the emergence and spread of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, described in CDC’s March 2013 Vital Signs Report remind us that we stand at the threshold of the post-antibiotics era and that we have a responsibility to bring broader attention to this serious public health threat.
In November of last year, a group of 26 organizations came together to sign the Joint Statement on Antibiotic Resistance, an agreement that put forth bold principles for protecting our current supply of working antibiotics while urging the development of new ones. Among the goals listed is the need for continued efforts to educate a wider audience about the looming danger of running out of effective antibiotics.
Last week, Extending the Cure released an animated video that explains in clear and engaging terms how antibiotic resistance emerges, what it costs to society, and why antibiotics must be conserved as a communal resource, like water and trees.
The video explains the link between individual responsibility to use antibiotics appropriately and its effect on the likelihood that we will collectively have effective antibiotics. It is a call to action that encourages parents, patients, and doctors to limit their antibiotic use in order to preserve the effectiveness of these drugs for generations to come.
As a community of public health professionals, we have a responsibility to respond to this crisis as it unfolds. While CDC and healthcare experts are doing more every year to promote rational prescribing at US hospitals and primary care providers, initiatives like Get Smart Week and this video are making sure consumers can meet them half way and internalize the message of responsible antibiotic use. Let’s not pass the buck. We are all responsible for whether future generations will have effective antibiotics.