The Global Battle against Antibiotic ResistancePosted on by
Earlier this week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Center for Global Health featured two posts in their Our Global Voices blog to highlight antibiotic resistance as a global threat and shared a story around lessons learned from a campaign in Egypt. Antibiotic resistance is a problem that must be faced squarely in every country where they can take actions that will benefit the local population. Antibiotics were the superhero of the 20th century—saving millions of lives around the world from bacterial infections including pneumonia, foodborne illness, and healthcare-associated infections. Unfortunately, antibiotic resistance has been exacerbated by inappropriate treatment practices, poor regulation of access to medicines, and lack of infection control programs.
The prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is increasing all over the world, including the United States. In Dr. Ramanan Laximinarayan’s blog on the state of the world’s antibiotics, he shares some clear trends from his own research around global antibiotic use and resistance in humans, livestock and the environment.
Dr. Laximinarayan emphasizes that strong antibiotic stewardship in its broadest sense is the key to conserving antibiotic effectiveness. By stopping the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, we can maintain access for those who truly need them.
It is imperative that we take action to combat antibiotic resistance by taking global action. In addition to improving antibiotic use and implementing stewardship programs, we must improve laboratory capacity to guide treatment, develop national and global antimicrobial resistance surveillance systems, and improve infection control to stop resistant infections from spreading. Dr. Benjamin Park shares WHO’s global action plan and CDC’s initiatives to combat antibiotic resistance.
Some experts have begun to tackle this issue at the global front. Dr. Lauri Hicks, Director of the Office of Antibiotic Stewardship with CDC, and Maha Talaat, Deputy Director for Disease Prevention with Global Disease Detection Center in Egypt, joined efforts to improve antibiotic stewardship in Egypt, where antibiotics are available over the counter. They found that a lot of providers said that if they didn’t prescribe something, patients would just go to the pharmacy and get it. In addition, pharmacies in Egypt won’t refuse antibiotics if patients ask for them. As a result, a pilot campaign was launched to teach people to use antibiotics correctly. The campaign saw a striking reduction in antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory infections from 81% to 60.4%, proving that targeted education can translate into cultural change. Another challenge Egypt faces is understanding how widespread and what the main causes of drug-resistant infections are. Surveillance programs are crucial to provide data for prevention measures. New data allowed hospitals to improve infection control practices and reduce the number of infections by 36 percent. Egypt, like the rest of the world, still faces high rates of antibiotic resistance and there is still work to do.