HEALTH

Rising antibiotic resistance is giving doctors fewer treatment options

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

According to a senior research scholar at the Princeton Environmental Institute, the misconception that antibiotics are completely safe is putting people’s health at risk.

Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan told an audience at the Princeton Global Health Program that the more antibiotics are used to treat infections, the more bacteria evolve and learn to respond to — or resist — drugs.

With increased access to antibiotics in some South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa countries, antibiotic resistance deaths are soaring because drugs are being used instead of water, sanitation and hygiene to reduce infections.

Research shows strains of pneumonia, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, gonorrhea, E. coli and salmonella have become drug resistant. The scholar stressed the urgency of the issue, claiming that by the time more effective antibiotics hits the market, it may be too late.

Dr. Saraj Saggar, chief of infectious diseases at Holy Name Medical Center, is keenly aware of this phenomenon. He says Holy Name limits the use, length of time and kind of antibiotic, educates patients about proper use, and promotes infection prevention in a world where resistance means the prescribing profession has fewer weapons in its arsenal.

Laxminarayan likens antibiotic resistance to climate change – it’s global and it needs a global response.