AntiMicrobial Resistance

Written by: Dr. Ali Khatau

Posted at: 2021-01-30 11:29:57

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is one of the most significant current health issues worldwide. AMR is the ability of a microorganism to resist the effects of medications that could previously successfully treat the disease caused by the microorganism. In other words, consider you have been taking certain tablets to treat a certain condition and you are successfully cured, AMR would mean that those same tablets can no longer treat that condition because the microbes that cause that condition or disease have changed in a certain way that they are no longer affected by those specific medications. So what exactly causes AntiMicrobial resistance? • One of the most common causes is misuse of antibiotics. A lot of us use anti-biotics for conditions like flu and common colds as well as sore throats. These are mostly viral infections that will not be affected in any way using anti-biotics. Viral infections usually are self-limiting which means that they go away on their own without needing any specific medications and especially not antibiotics. • Another cause is taking incomplete doses of antibiotics. Many people who have been prescribed antibiotics stop taking them once they start feeling better. As a result, you may find people taking only 4 days of drugs out of the prescribed 5 days and this leads to AMR. • Another common cause especially in Tanzania is taking antibiotics without being prescribed them by qualified doctors. When sick, a lot of us just assume it to be a bacterial infection and run to a local pharmacy asking for antibiotics. What can we do to stop AMR? Taking urgent measures to stop AMR is extremely essential since there is no known way of reversing this situation. Once a microbe develops resistance, we currently don’t know how to make it resistant to that specific antibiotic again and this has massive implications. • One of the ways is by using antibiotics for what they’re meant for, which is treating ONLY bacterial infections. Antibiotics should never be taken for viral conditions like the common cold or flu as is currently done especially by many Tanzanians. • Another way is by making sure we only take antibiotics when they are prescribed by a qualified doctor. We need to stop this widespread practice of taking unprescribed antibiotics straight from pharmacies. • And finally, we need to make sure we take the full doses prescribed by the doctor and not stop taking the dose as soon as we start feeling better.

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