Drug-resistance threat warrants proper attention

AN INCREASE in drug-resistant superbugs has given rise to concerns at global level. Drug-resistant infections in people and animals, if allowed to remain unchecked, will leave some 28 million people in poverty by 2050, as New Age reported on Tuesday quoting a World Bank report released before a high-level meeting on the issue at the United Nations headquarters, and reverse the progress made in the health sector in a century because of the discovery of antibiotics. Moreover, global livestock production may fall by 2.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent a year in the period. Meanwhile, according to another report that the UK government commissioned in May, the infections may kill more than 10 million people across the world a year by 2050, apart from pushing up the treatment cost. The rise of superbugs has been caused largely by an increased use and misuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs in the treatment of people and animals all over the world. What is more worrying is that despite repeated warnings from experts over the issue in recent years, the world is yet to see any significant steps to check the excessive and unnecessary use of the life-saving drugs.
Besides, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, with a growing demand for animal products, such use of the drugs increases day by day. It is important to note that, in line with the May report, greater quantities of antibiotics are used in farming than in treating people while much of the use in farming is meant to promote animal growth rather than treat sick animals. That apart, according to FAO estimates, 60,000 tonnes of antimicrobials are now used in livestock each year. Overall, it is, indeed, high time that the UN meeting, to be held next week, seriously discussed the issue and found out measures to successfully fight the growing menace to public health. In any case, there is nothing to differ with FAO’s chief veterinary officer who pointed out that promotion of good farming practices that require the farmers to have a better knowledge on hygiene and proper and timely vaccination to reduce the frequency of animals’ being sick and, thereby, using antibiotics could be an option in this regard. Mass awareness of taking uncontaminated food could also contribute to this end. Above all, to curb the drug-resistance menace, doctors and veterinary surgeons need to be trained properly while there should be strict monitoring of the use of antibiotics and proper waste management in hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.
It is needless to say that with a thriving farm sector which has already fallen victim to aggressive marketing policies pursued by national and multinational drug companies that produce antimicrobial medicines, coupled with the lack of mass awareness of the danger associated with drug overuse, Bangladesh is highly exposed to drug-resistant threats. It, therefore, immediately needs to take note of the global concern about the issue and act accordingly.

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