Drug resistant infections.

Byline: Dr Anokhi Khanum - Karachi

ACCORDING to the World Health Organisation, global deaths from drug resistant infections are predicted to rise from the current 700,000 per year to 10 million by 2050. We are already seeing a steep rise in multi-drug resistant typhoid in the last three years in Pakistan, so how did we get here?

The discovery of antibiotics revolutionised medicine, giving a cure for many previously deadly infections caused by pathogens called bacteria. Unfortunately, as bacteria are able to reproduce rapidly, this gives them the advantage to also adapt to their surrounding environments rapidly; therefore, when we constantly expose bacteria to antibiotics, they start developing resistance. The human body is covered with friendly bacteria with whom we have a symbiotic relationship.

They live on us and prevent more invasive bacteria from settling in and protect us from infections that way. However, every time we take antibiotics, we decolonise our body not just of the invaders, but also of the friendly bacteria. This in turn leaves spaces open for more aggressive forms of bacteria to settle in and reproduce.

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