Treatment resistant infections on the rise throughout the world. The World Health Organization has identified antimicrobial resistance as a top ten health threat to humanity. Many medications that were once effective at treating certain bacteria and fungi no longer work. Antibiotic overuse contributes significantly to antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when a species of bacteria, for example, undergoes random genetic changes that makes them less vulnerable to medication. The bacteria that do not develop this advantageous mutation die off, while the ones that do evolve become a dominant strain.
Experts have pinpointed several causes of the antimicrobial resistance crisis. Overuse of antimicrobial medications is among the top culprits. Antimicrobial resistance is occurring much faster than new drugs are being invented. Pharmaceutical companies have not brought a new class of antibiotics to market since the 1980s. In addition many under-resourced communities lack diagnostic equipment that helps physicians use antimicrobials more efficiently. Most hospitals in high-income countries use sophisticated technology to quickly determine the type of infection and conduct antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) These methods assist doctors in deciding whether a patient would benefit from antibiotics, and which medication would work best. Low-income countries in particular face a dearth of diagnostic tools. A short supply of infectious disease doctors also hinders the responsible use of antimicrobials, as about 80% of US counties lack a single infectious disease specialist.
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