The World Economic Forum included antibiotic resistance as a global risk – not just a global health risk, but a global risk. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) also recently appeared as a discussion topic at the G8 summit.
This is a topic that is now discussed in the popular press, in talk shows, in television documentaries, and increasingly, in people’s homes.
The problem has only grown over the years. It has surfaced across the range of bacterial infections from tuberculosis to gonorrhea to staph to gram-negative sepsis. Patients with all these diseases have borne the consequences of drug resistance. It occurs in our homes, in our hospitals, in our families, and in our farms. As a result, we now have examples of organisms that show near universal resistance to currently available drugs – what the media has dubbed the superbugs.
It’s worth pointing out that AMR is an equal opportunity threat. It causes problems whether you live in South Asia or Southern Europe, in South Africa or South America. We’re all in this together.
For decades we’ve convinced ourselves that we could innovate our way out of the problem simply by coming up with new antibiotics. That actually worked pretty well for decades. You might say we became victims of our own success. We made it very easy to take antibiotics because they were inexpensive and available.
So, for many reasons, we’ve reached the tipping point. AMR has now climbed the ladder of public health priorities and gotten near the top. This attention provides an unprecedented opportunity to finally do something about this problem and reverse the tide on resistance.
One of the principles central to slowing the development of resistance is the judicious use of antibiotics. A key way to achieve this result is through antibiotic stewardship programs.
Given the focus of the conference “What we need to know for winning the battle against superbugs?”, much of the discussion will try to address the problem of multi-drug resistant organisms and the use of antibiotics.