On Sept. 21, the United Nations passed a historic resolution targeting the superbug fight as well as the dangerous antibiotic resistant infections (AMR), which have been on the upswing for decades. But critics contend it may be too little too late, and what’s the backup plan consist of anyway other than using fewer antibiotics and producing new classes of antibiotics, which drug manufactures balk at due to lack of financial incentives.
A 2015 study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) calls for a broader approach to address bacterial infection. A more preventative holistic approach is recommended along with probiotics.
Then there are those who would argue that while the golden age of antibiotics served humans well, these miracle drugs were really only a Band-Aid when natural solutions that address the root have always been available.
One functional method today is high-quality colloidal silver, which has been proven in modern lab conditions to wipe out over 630 exotic and common pathogens while improving overall resistance against an incredible spectrum of human ailments. An even more powerful, modern version of this is chelated silver, which binds to the infected areas with 100-200 times higher bio availability, making it the most powerful natural antimicrobial in the market. Both applications don’t compromise the immune system, but are able to wipe out even the sturdiest superbugs.
Why is the U.N. Acting Now?
It took two decades of warnings for the U.N. to finally recognize the superbug fight and the spiraling ineffectiveness of antibiotics. The is somewhat due to pressure from the medical community, which has become limited in its ability to conventionally treat or contain infections caused by these superbug drug-resistant bacterial strains.
Then there are the frightening statistics and glimpses into the not so pretty future. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that more than two million Americans become sickened by resistant strains of bacteria each year — the outlook is so grim that the CDC is awarding large grants to hospitals to study which antibiotics are most likely to develop resistances. Resistant bacteria are killing 23,000 people a year in the U.S. and 700,000 globally.
A report commissioned by the UK Prime Minster found that a superbug bacteria problem could claim 10 million lives and cost $100 trillion over the next 35 years. Currently powerful antibiotics are critical in the conventional treatment of cancer patients, organ transplants, and other life-saving surgeries.
Did It Have To Get This Bad This Fast?
Why are bacteria becoming immune to drug treatment? Antibiotic abuse and misuse. When medical providers overprescribe antibiotics or patients take incomplete doses, bacteria develops defenses against that type of antibiotic, which may make it impervious to treatment by the antibiotic in the future. Studies show that around half of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary. And then there’s the issue of antibiotics being fed daily to cattle, pigs, and other animals in the meat industry to prevent diseases that feedlot farming almost guarantees.
So, What’s The U.N.’s Plan For Bacterial Resistance?
An antibiotic “control” program is by definition doomed because bugs go through mutation phases a million times a second, while a new antibiotic takes a decade to develop.
And yet the General Assembly declaration stipulates that member nations draft plans aimed at safeguarding the efficacy of existing antibiotic drugs, while stepping up efforts to develop new, more durable antibiotic drugs to avoid even more of a superbug bacteria problem. These plans must incorporate clear strategies for surveillance and monitoring of antibiotic use in the doctor’s office, hospital, and on the farm — as the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is a major culprit in the creation and spread of superbug bacteria.
The declaration encourages countries to enhance educational programs surrounding the threat of super bug problems and appropriate antibiotic use. Supporters say the programs are critical, given that ignorance about antibiotic use and because superbug bacteria is widespread. In fact, a 2015 survey by the World Health Organization found that over 60 percent of respondents in 12 countries believed that antibiotics should be used to treat common viral infections. Antibiotics do not work on viruses. Meanwhile, more than a third of respondents regularly fail to complete a prescribed dose of antibiotics.
According to Dr. David Huyn, a researcher who studies antibiotic resistance at Pew Charitable Trusts, the declaration’s focus on developing new antibiotics is key.
“There is a need for developing new antibiotics and a need for removing scientific hurdles for the discovery of new antibiotics,” he says. He and his team work to streamline drug regulatory processes to accomplish the latter. Attention to these issues by the U.N. may aid their efforts.
Drug Companies Just Say No
The last really new class of antibiotics was invented in 1984, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Every new antibiotic to hit the market since then — and there have not been many — is a variation on a decades-old design.
Critics point to Big Pharma and say there is no financial incentive to develop new antibiotics since world health organizations are advising doctors to lay off using them. Also, if antibiotics are used, they are generally used for the short term, not like the long-term therapies that help bring in revenues for pharmaceutical companies.
And simply increasing the potency of the antibiotic doesn’t really make a difference as illustrated in this video where bacteria invade antibiotics of various strengths but still evolve into superbugs.
The U.N. is particularly concerned about the immediacy of dangers regarding antibiotic resistance and superbug bacteria. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned about cases of antibiotic resistance involving AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and even a typhoid epidemic in parts of Africa. The ineffectiveness of antibiotics to treat these extremely dangerous diseases undercuts progress made to combat them worldwide. In fact, the World Health Organization recently revised its guidelines for the treatment of STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, because superbug bacteria strains of these infections are rapidly spreading.
This is only the fourth time in the General Assembly’s history that it has met to draft a resolution about a specific public health threat. In the past, the body has discussed and released declarations about AIDS, Ebola, and noncommunicable diseases (think diabetes and obesity). The General Assembly’s decision to make AMR a central issue and to coordinate a multinational response demonstrates the seriousness of the threat. Supporters of the resolution view it as a political turning point in the fight against antibiotic misuse, which has waxed and waned due to inaction in medical, security, and agricultural sectors. Critics believe the focus is off.
Supporters believe the U.N. declaration is a positive step in the fight against AMR, but even they worry that it comes too late, given that superbugs resistant to last-resort antibiotics are already popping up in Asia, Europe, and even recently in the U.S .
Can the U.N. generate the urgency needed to turn the tide against superbug bacteria? Perhaps the world must finally embrace alternative measures like silver. Humans don’t really have time to spare.
Maggie Tennis is a writer based in Washington, DC. She enjoys adventuring in the city’s many parks, paddle boarding on the Potomac River and walking until her feet ache. Maggie believes that wellness means pursuing that balanced feeling of feeling good—for your mind, body and spirit—and sometimes that means eating popsicles for breakfast.
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