Reckless antibiotic usage can turn fatal
Antibiotic resistance is the new plague in India. Reckless use of antibiotics has made seemingly common diseases including urinary tract infections (UTI) fatal. Now, five out of 10 UTI patients need injectable drugs. Many of those drugs used are toxic to the body. To make things worse, even those fail sometimes, so there's no guarantee the high-risk drug will actually work on the infection.
First things first. What is antibiotic resistance?
With overuse of antibiotics, over time, the bacteria in one's body adapt and become immune to the drugs that are designed to kill them. This leads to the standard treatments for bacterial infections becoming ineffective.
Why is India so vulnerable?
India is the largest consumer of antibiotics in the world. According to Public Health Foundation of India, three out of five doctors recommend antibiotics because it's a "quick fix." Often patients don't complete course of antibiotics. Experts also attribute India's poor sanitation, inexpensive antibiotics, poor health systems for antibiotic resistance. It is estimated that 2 million Indians will die by 2050 due to drug-resistance.
Resistance has made mild diseases severe
It is now harder to treat even mild illnesses like typhoid, pneumonia and TB due to increased antibiotic resistance. Resistance among Indian children has also reached alarming levels, with common drugs now failing to act on as many as 95% of pediatric patients.
Resistance causing kidney failures, and can even lead to death
UTI, one of the most common bacterial infections affecting mostly women, could earlier be cured through oral medicines which were less toxic and much cheaper. Nowadays, as many as five people suffer from kidney failure each year caused by either the infection, or heavy doses of antibiotics. Soon, people might even die of UTI, says Dr Anup Kumar of Safdarjung doctor.
The fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria has tough obstacles
There are three-four designated antibiotics for UTIs. Recently, the WHO issued a list with 12 antibiotic-resistant 'priority pathogens' which included E. Coli, a common cause of UTI. The need of the hour is to explore newer and safer drugs. However, most pharmaceutical firms are not focusing on newer antibiotics, instead keeping their eyes fixed on drugs for chronic illnesses which have more shelf life.