Antibiotics are a group of powerful drugs that are used to fight bacterial infections. The first type of antibiotic, penicillin, was invented by Alexander Fleming in 1928. They fight bacteria in two ways: they either kill them directly or stop the bacteria from growing too rapidly.
Antibiotics are (at best) able to save countless lives for those who depend on them for treating sicknesses caused by bacteria, or those who are prone to sickness caused by bacteria because of a surgery or a major wound.
But if antibiotics are used incorrectly, things can go terribly wrong for the patient.
Antibiotics are important medicines. They help fight infections that are caused by bacteria. Antibiotic resistance (when an antibiotic is no longer effective) is a major problem.
Antibiotic resistance is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately. It's important that we use antibiotics the right way, to slow down resistance and make sure these life-saving medicines remain effective for us and future generations.
Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant. These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.
The world urgently needs to change the way it prescribes and uses antibiotics.
Even if new medicines are developed, without behaviour change, antibiotic resistance will remain a major threat.
Behaviour changes must also include actions to reduce the spread of infections through vaccination, hand washing, practising safer sex, and good food hygiene.
Antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. Organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections.
What can I do?
The best way to help is to not take antibiotics unless it's absolutely necessary and to only consider them an option in this type of circumstance. If you are taking a course of antibiotics then make sure you finish the entire course (even if you feel better) because this encourages the growth of antibiotic-resistance.
Good hygiene and infection control practice are essential to protect yourself from germs. Make sure to wash your hands regularly and properly as illustrated in the diagram below (click to enlarge).
Frequent hand-washing is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting sick and spread illnesses. Your hands pick up many germs during your everyday life operations, through a hand shake, when working or cooking. You can easily transfer them to other people who, in turn, can spread them to others, and so on. Germs on your hands will multiply on your skin if not washed away. People touch their face several times per hours without realising it, and with dirty hands, harmful bacteria can enter your body through the nose, mouth, and eyes to make you sick. By washing hands, you reduce the spread of germs and protect yourself.
“95% of people don’t wash their hands properly”. Most of the people don’t wash their hands long enough; it should be done for at least 20 seconds. The World Health Organization recommends the following steps to ensure safe hands:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water. The temperature doesn’t influence the effectiveness of hand washing. Turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Rub your hands with soap and don’t forget areas like the nails, the back of the hands and between the fingers.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, you can sing ‘happy birthday’ twice while rubbing to make sure that you do it long enough.
- Rinse your hands under clean water.
- Use a clean towel or a hand dryer to dry your hands. Dry hands are harder for germs to multiply on.
If we don't all do our part, then we will be left with no antibiotics that will work. This is especially vital to the chronically ill, elderly and children who depend on these as they are weaker and only increase the potential morality rates in the future.
Please be responsible and consider the future for the next generations.
If you want to link to this page to raise awareness and show your support, feel free to link the banner below.