The unchecked antibiotic | Opinion

The world’s borders are in flux: mass migration has been brought on by an unrelenting war and a general discontent at one’s existing conditions. These factors – compounded by the devastating effects of climate change, famine and water scarcity – have created a humanitarian crisis which has never been seen before.

As governments are under pressure to address these challenges in today’s world, a beast, which has been threatening to rear its head for years, may finally be ready to awaken from its slumber: antimicrobial resistance.

Microbes are ubiquitous: they are found both inside and outside our body. Microbes, which cause severe diseases among certain at-risk populations, usually exist in harmony with our body processes. It is only when one or more of these processes are disrupted that they can cause diseases. These virulent, pathogenic microbes have traditionally been treated by using antibiotics.

The first antibiotic, Sulfanilamide, was developed in Germany in 1932 and ushered in a new era in the research and development of antibiotics. Subsequent decades saw the development of many compounds that were active against the different classes of microbes: bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. New modalities in disease therapy greatly improved human health and saved millions of lives. Antibiotics were heralded as the miracle drug. It was believed that the new era of healthcare would eradicate all disease.

However, evolution had other ideas. With the eradication of drug-susceptible microbes, evolutionary pressure to select drug-resistant microbes has increased. Widespread and improper antibiotic use resulted in more of these drug-resistant microbes being selected. This has occurred to the extent that these microbes evolved ingenious tools to help them resist antibiotics to the point that they developed resistance to an entire group or class of antimicrobials.

Fortunately, there were a large number…

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