From newborns, mothers to the elderly, antibiotic resistance can be fatal; but we can do something
It is world antibiotic awareness week (November 14-20) and antibiotic resistance is on the rise. We need to worry, especially when we do not expect new antibiotics anytime soon.
A while back, during a field trip to one of our research partner hospitals in eastern Uganda, we came across a woman who had just undergone two operations following a life threating infection or sepsis as medics call it.
The lady who I will call Habiba was initially taken to a health facility in neighbouring district, 60 kilometres from the hospital where we found her. At the lower health facility they could not manage her and she was referred to a hospital. But inability to afford vehicular transport meant opting for a motorbike taxi (boda boda). And matters were made worse by a bad road that further delayed her.
By the time Habiba reached the first hospital, she had already raptured her membrane. To add to her misery there was no doctor at this hospital. It was at the second hospital where she found a doctor. But her baby was already dead. Two operations were done within a week and following these surgeries, Habiba never responded to the antibiotic treatment that was being administered to her. She too died!
While chatting a senior medical officer at this facility, he intimated to us that they were having a challenge with antibiotics (medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections). Patients, he told us, were simply not responding to these vital medicines in fighting bacterial infections. What this means is that bacteria are no longer affected by these medicines. They [bacteria] have become resistant. When such bacteria infect you, it means higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality, to which statistics Habiba contributed.
None-the-less, hope is not lost, if prevention and control measures espoused by the WHO are implemented. As an individual, policy maker, health worker, the healthcare industry and the agricultural sector, find out here, what you can do! Perhaps we can save the Habibas of this world.
Also see this one minute WHO: â€˜Antibiotics: Handle with careâ€™ campaign video
Blog by Kakaire Ayub Kirunda