Global Cooperation for Local Action: Fighting antimicrobial resistance

antibiotics

(Adam Nieścioruk, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Paula Pacheco Rocha, a student of the sixth period of Medicine of the Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas- PUC Campinas She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Look around: antibiotics are everywhere. They are in the food people eat. They are in soaps. They are overly prescribed everywhere. What could seem paradoxical to someone outside the field of biology is actually happening: so much antibiotic, yet we have never faced such defeat on microorganisms’s threats. Bacteria have habited this planet for way longer than human beings and, sooner or later, they develop resistance. So, what should we do?

First and foremost, to  counteract  the spread of antibiotic resistance, the inappropriate use of antibiotics should be reduced.

What has been done already to reduce this threat? There has been a global recommendation that countries institute a “National Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing Committee”. In Brazil, there is the Brazilian Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (BrCAST), which unites professionals from different backgrounds: the Brazilian Society of Clinical Analysis, Brazilian Society of Infectology, Brazilian Society of Microbiology and Brazilian Society of Clinical Pathology. In many other countries this effort is already being made.

The professionals taking part in these many National Committees are people who already understand deeply about the dangers of antibiotic misuse. But the threat needs to reach people outside the field of biology so that we rationalize antibiotic usage.

We need to perpass culture. For a long time, bacteria have been portrayed in mass media as only pathological organisms. Propaganda of soaps on tv wanted to get rid of 99.9% of them. Antibiotics were massively portrayed as pharmaceuticals that had much benefit and little danger. Moms want to give antibiotics to their kids, desperately. Maybe they think that the pediatrician that does not prescribe it does not want the best for her child. This war on bacteria became a global culture that impulsionated the ongoing overuse of antibiotics. We need to acknowledge that there has to be a cultural shift.

References

Donabedian SM, Thal LA, Hershberger E, Perri MB, Chow JW, Bartlett P, et al. Molecular characterization of gentamicin-resistant enterococci in the United States: evidence of spread from animals to humans through food. J Clin Microbiol. 2003;41:1109–13.

Sabtu N, Enoch DA, Brown NM. Antibiotic resistance: what,  why, where,  when and  how? Br Med  Bull.2015;116:105–13.

Burch, D. G. (1996). Is it time to ban all antibiotics as animal growth-promoting agents? Lancet 348, 1455–1456. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(04)70104-X

Arthur C. Ouwehand, Sofia Forssten, Ashley A. Hibberd, Anna Lyra & Buffy Stahl (2016): Probiotic approach to prevent antibiotic resistance, Annals of Medicine, DOI: 10.3109/07853890.2016.1161232

http://www.eucast.org/organization/nac/

About the author

Paula Pacheco Rocha is a student of the sixth period of Medicine of the Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas- PUC Campinas. Class monitor of Microbiology, assisting the Professor Dr. Maria Magali Stelato. Member of IFMSA Brazil- PUC Campinas as LEO-in (Local Exchange Officer for incoming students) and LORA-D (Director of the Standing Committee of Sexual and Reproductive Health including HIV and AIDS). She believes immensely in Global Cooperation for the future of human health on Earth, with the development of technologies like AI and nanomedicine backed by ethical, human intercultural knowledge exchange.

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