Battling Bugs

Urgent action is necessary for slowing down more and more microorganisms developing mechanisms for surviving existing drugs, before new drugs can be found.
When Dr. Corinne Capuano, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative for Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Singapore asked if anyone could imagine a world without antimicrobials, everyone including WHO Malaysia Technical Officer Dr Harpal Singh were speechless.
For it to happen, it would mean drugs capable of killing and controlling the growth of infectious organisms like bacteria, fungi and parasites, and without which we would be completely defenceless against infections.
Weak immune systems unable to fend off bacteria responsible for giving us common conditions like food poisoning, would result in death as doctors would have no medications that could help fight it.
As in the 14th century, when the bubonic plague or ‘Black Death’ came to Europe, there were no anti-microbials to help the community fight Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for infecting and killing a third of the population.
While, such a situation seems alarmist and unimaginable, the WHO believes it to be a possibility, if no action is taken now.
The WHO Director-General’s statement on World Health Day last Thursday dedicated to creating global awareness of the need to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) drove home the message loud and clear.  The truth is bugs are increasingly becoming smarter at being able to evade drugs, while we are unable to make new ones fast enough.
First introduced in the 1940s, antibiotics were hailed as ‘wonder drugs’, the miracles of modern medicine, but the world is on the brink of losing these miracle cures, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan cautioned.