Friday, April 8, 2011

World Health Day - Combat Drug Resistance

April 7 is observed as the World Heath Day all over the world. The theme this year was "Combat Drug Resistance." It has been observed by researchers that more and more essential drugs are failing to combat diseases and a time may come when the antibiotics, most frequently prescribed and used by the doctors and patients, may not help cure common infections due to antimicrobial resistance inside our bodies. The results are alarming. Even in most advanced countries in the EU, some 25,000 people die from bacterial infections as the antibiotics fail to cure these infections. If this is the case of countries where people live in much cleaner and healthier environment, one can imagine the plight of sufferers and patients in the third world countries where even access to clean drinking water is far fetched dream.

The cases of tuberculosis and malaria are once again on the increase. Sometime back, it was a jubilant success that the spread of incidence of tuberculosis has been contained. But only in 2010, some 440,000 cases of tuberculosis have been reported in 69 countries worldwide, which are being taken seriously as drugs are losing the battle against the bacteria and viruses.
The antimicrobial resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon, due to which the bacteria has found a mechanism to combat and defeat antibiotics. Due to this resistance, there is an alarming decrease in the potency of the drugs to combat the bacteria and common infections. While the resistive bacteria is one of the cause of failing drugs, the off-the-shelf purchase of antibiotics without proper diagnosis of the disease is also one of the major contributing factor towards drug failures. The self-prescription, the over dosage by doctors for “speedy recover” and even mis-prescriptions are some of the major causes of ineffective combat of incidence of many diseases.
What can we do? Well the WHO has issued a six point policy, which is is aimed at everyone and especially to get "governments and their drug regulatory systems on the right track, with the right measures, quickly." These include strategies to encourage governments to develop and implement strong policies, strengthen surveillance and laboratory capacity, to promote rational use of antibiotics, improve infection control and encourage research into new drugs.

While strategies at higher pedestal will take time to have their effects felt, we at the user end must combat diseases through proper prescription after detailed tests and take the prescribed amount of antibiotics only. Remember over dosage or self medication may harm our resistive mechanism against the bacteria and a time may come that the available antibiotics will fail to cure even the most common infections, which could be very fatal.

WHO's slogan, "No action today, no cure tomorrow," highlights the problem simply. Stick to it, lest it is too late.