Dealing with superbugs

Ijaz Ali

A silent threat known as “superbugs” has been lurking in the world in the recent years. These small organisms may not appear frightening, yet they have the ability to make us terribly sick. In this article, we aimed to know what superbugs are and why they have become a major health threat across the globe.

The superbugs are clever bacterial germs that have learned to fight back against the medications we use to kill them. These medications are known as antibiotics, and they are our weapons to fight infections. Antibiotics are considered as shields against hazardous microorganisms. However, some bacteria have discovered a way to breach these defenses, becoming ‘resistant’ to antibiotics. This implies that antibiotics are no longer effective, and the superbugs can continue to cause infections.

Like if we get a minor cut on our finger a basic antibiotic can help avoid infection but if a superbug is present, the infection may worsen because standard treatments may not be effective. And as a result, people do not get well and possibly pushed into dangerous circumstances. Every year, about 80% of the antibiotics are tested on animals before they are sold. A study found that animals like chickens and cattle are fed with around 63,000 tons of antibiotics annually. This has led to a rise in superbugs among animals, and there is a fear that they could affect humans as well.

To deal with superbugs has become a big issue in Pakistan. They can resist our antibiotics, causing trouble for our health system. Each year, these bugs infect 2 million people, sadly causing 23,000 deaths in the world. The bugs move between patients and facilities, spreading on surfaces and hands. Keeping things clean is must but there is more to be done. Interestingly, many infections happen outside hospitals, entering our bodies through food in our daily life. The challenge is that the pharmaceutical companies have stopped making new antibiotics as it has become tough and costly.

Here, it is worth to mention that superbugs do not appear suddenly everywhere and have become more powerful as a result of our inefficient use of antibiotics. We take antibiotics for things like cold, which is caused by a virus rather than bacteria. When we do this, we not only treat the sickness wrong, but also teach the bacteria how to avoid antibiotics.

Dr Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, emphasizes that the present system is broken as no new antibiotics have hit the market since 1987. It is a tough challenge and finding a solution to it is crucial. Whether it is through the proposed fund or another approach, the progress is needed to develop and deliver new drugs.

Doctors and scientists are collaborating to find new strategies to combat superbugs. They are exploring for novel medications and attempting to ensure that antibiotics are only used when necessary. We can cut down spread of the superbugs by using antibiotics less frequently and correctly.

Apart from this, World Health Organization (WHO) has flagged this as a global public health threat, with the chief medical officer of England comparing its gravity to terrorism. According to WHO, an immediate action is needed to combat this looming crisis.

When it comes to staying healthy, we have an important part to play. Ever wondered, “What can I do about this?” Let’s talk about it. Imagine if you are feeling unwell before asking for antibiotics, it is good to visit a doctor. The doctor knows the best way to help you get better but here is the thing: if you start to feel better, that’s great, but if you do not stop taking the medicine the doctor gave you, finish all of it, even if you think you are fine. This is super important, because, it ensures that any harmful germs still left in your body are completely wiped out. By doing your part and following these steps, you are helping fight these tricky germs and staying on the path to good health.

The writer is an MPhil scholar at the Islamia College University, Peshawar. He can be reached at:

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