What you need to know
What actually is the antibiotics resistance crisis?
The simplest explanation would be when an illness which is commonly treated by antibiotics beings to develop resistance to that drug, this making the drug less effective. An illness can mutate and develop resistances to antibiotics for numerous reasons. The most common reasons we see in everyday society is that antibiotics are being misused and abused. Rather than focusing on the science of resistance development, this page will focus on the bioethical issues brought up by the ever changing world of antibiotics resistance.
If you are intrested in learning a bit more about the science you can follow one of these links to get a general overview of the issue along with explanation of the development. Resource 1: NCBI Resource 2: RxList
To put how pressing the situation is into context, this quote issued on the World Health Organization’s website in 2014 sums it up quite well: “‘Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,’ says Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security. ‘Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier, and benefit from modern medicine. Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating.'”
So now that we know what the antibiotics resistance crisis actually is, why do we care? Why does this matter? Antibiotics are saving lives right? This is likely the sentiments of the everyday citizen, until, they see one very daunting number. 10,000,000. Ten millon is the number of people that numerous studies predict will die annually from antimicrobial resistance if we do not change the way we use antibiotics.
Well, if that many people are going to die in the future, why do we keep using antibiotics? If we are being put in more danger, what’s the point? Why is something so harmful so prevalent in the medical system? Well, think of the grandma with a weakned immune system who contracts an infection, or what about the cancer patient who has a comprimised immune system and can’t fight infections on their own?
These sentiments are what craft the two main perspectives on this issue: those that prioritze the future, and those who prioritze the present. Each side with valid arguments, and each with different pitfalls. Please follow this link to a chart on how the different principles of bioethics factor into the two different perspecitves.
My response: what we can do
This page wasn’t intended to try and encourage to removal of antiobiotics or create fear surrounding them, rather, I hope this bring to light an issue that may cause very similar problems to COVID-19 in the future. I believe that the best course of action moving forward would be to be much more stringent when prescribing antibiotics. Making sure antibiotics are absolutely necessary in any situation gives the potential for antibiotics to continue to protect individuals in the present day, while not completely compromising the future uses of antibiotics.
How can you get involved?
Brainstorm some ideas! In the comments below leave your thoughts on what the best course of action moving forward is. In addition, consider the principles of bioethics, and the pros and cons of your decison, what do you think is the biggest downside to your opinion? I would also love to hear some feedback in the comments if you have any! You can find my works cited here.
Thank you for taking the time to read through my project!