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Antibiotic resistance: a health disaster approaching

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Most clinically important antibiotics are now less effective at killing disease-causing bacteria than in years past, the latest government surveillance data shows.

Monitoring started in 2017 on 18 antibiotics used against 10 pathogens has found that 11 antibiotics are now less effective.

Professor Zakir Hussain Habib, who led the study being carried out by the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control, and Research, said an alarming situation was continuing to worsen due to the “irrational” use of antibiotics.

The surveillance, being carried out at nine medical college hospitals, found that all 18 antibiotics were ineffective in curing 6 percent of bacterial infections tested, up from 5 percent last year. These bacteria are called “superbugs”.

“If this continues, our intensive care units will become unusable. Doctors will be helpless against the superbug,” said Professor Zakir, IEDCR’s chief scientific officer.

The drugs were tested against bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections, septicemia, diarrhea, pneumonia, wound infections, and some other diseases.

As the findings were revealed at an event at the IEDCR auditorium in the capital yesterday, experts said “irrational use” or unnecessary use of “high-end” antibiotics is leading to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotics are classified as an “access group” prescribed for primary infections, a “watch group” for high-resistance bacteria, and a “reserve group” for infections that can be prevented or treated with drugs from other groups. Can not be treated.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the ineffectiveness of antibiotics to kill microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, is a global cause of concern.

About 3,500 people die every day due to AMR. According to a study published earlier this year in the medical journal Lancet, more than 1.2 million people – and potentially millions more – died in 2019 as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

A 2021 study by the Disease Control Unit at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) revealed that high-grade (see and reserve) antibiotics were being used in 70-80 percent of cases in the country. But the World Health Organization recommends keeping its use within 40 percent.

According to the IEDCR study, the ineffectiveness of four of the six critically important antibiotics listed by the World Health Organization has increased by up to 84 percent during the past year.

The list includes Ceftazidime, Cefixime, Cefepime, and Ceftriaxone. Of two other critically important antibiotics – the ineffectiveness of azithromycin fell from 55 percent to 53 percent, while ciprofloxacin remained at 66 percent.

But carbapenems — considered a last-resort antibiotic — are ineffective, up from 44 percent to 60 percent last year, according to the report.

Addressing yesterday’s event as the chief guest, Professor Ahmadul Kabir, Additional Director General (Administration), DGHS, said, “First of all, physicians should be made aware of the dangers of indiscriminately prescribing antibiotics.”

“This is a crisis for all of us and if we work together we can overcome it,” said Prof Nitish Debnath, team lead for the Fleming Fund Country Grant.

At the beginning of the event, prizes were given away to the students of the university and medical college who won the AMR awareness competition.

Daniel Novak, First Secretary, Embassy of Sweden in Dhaka; Mohd Ramji Ismail, WHO Representative to Bangladesh; and Professor Mushtaque Hussain, Advisor, IEDCR participated in the program chaired by Tehmina Shireen, Director, IEDCR.

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