Drug resistant future
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
The UN Environment Assembly, the highest-level gathering on matters concerning the environment, warned of a ticking time bomb of drug-resistant germs brewing in the natural environment, aided by humans dumping antibiotics and chemicals into the water and soil.
The “Frontiers 2017” report released during the assembly warns that people will be at an ever-higher risk of contracting diseases which are incurable by existing antibiotics from swimming in the sea or other seeming innocuous activities if we continue our irresponsible ways.
“Around the world, discharge from municipal, agricultural and industrial waste in the environment means it is common to find antibiotic concentrations in many rivers, sediments and soils,” the study found. “It is steadily driving the evolution of bacteria,” and “A drug that once protected our health is now in danger of very quietly destroying it.”
With health watchdogs already deeply worried about the dwindling armory of weapons against germs, drug resistant infections are projected to kill 10 million people a year by 2050 and that could make it the leading cause of death.
Antibiotics are usually used to kill disease-causing bacteria but with the over prescription and misuse of antibiotics, often at incorrect dosages, many germs are not killed but instead get an evolutionary boost to survive future exposure to the same drug.
Another contributor to the drug resistance problem is environmental pollution where 70-80% of all antibiotics that humans take or give to farm animals find their way into the environment, partly through wastewater and manure deposits. When those hundreds of thousands of tones of antibiotics find their way into the environment, scientists are worrying that bacteria can acquire drug resistance by exposure to those antibiotics.
Antibiotics are one of the great discoveries of modern man. However, mounting proof that it could lead to our undoing if used irresponsibly should spur us to reevaluate our relationship with antibiotics so it can continue to benefit mankind instead of turning into a threat that could've and should've been avoided.*