It seems like people have to worry about some crisis or another every day. Maybe it is an earthquake, fire, tornadoes, floods, political upheavals, etc. The World Health Organization has now given us a new worry. We are losing the effectiveness of our antibiotics; and, when this happens, everyone will be in danger. WHO tells the world’s people that it is time to act and develop some new antibiotics.
Over time, we have come to expect our existing supply of antibiotics will protect us from killer disease infections, and there are many that threaten public health. For example, just think of what can happen to us if we have no protection from sexually transmitted diseases or pneumonia.
Most of us today may have had to rely on some of our medicines to protect us in the past from common childhood diseases and from tuberculosis or HIV. Many diseases are developing resistance to our favored medicines and we must meet this challenge by finding new antibiotics. We have been warned. Are we taking these warnings seriously?
This problem doesn’t belong to just one country. No, this is a worldwide problem, requiring a positive response from all who inhabit our planet. Research and development of new medicines should be high priority everywhere. We cannot allow superbugs to render existing antibiotics useless and ineffective.
Man must keep ahead of these superbugs and not allow those previously conquered diseases to re-emerge and endanger us once again. Some viruses and parasites have already evolved, making our medicine ineffective in treating them.
We read constantly of more and more infections being picked up in hospitals. We lack medicines even now to control some of these diseases. We have overprescribed some antibiotics even knowing they may not be an effective treatment. Some medicines may work well on bacteria but not so well on viruses for which they may be prescribed.
Overuse of antibiotics in farm animals passes some medicines to humans through the food chain. This is another way we may water down our medicine and later cannot rely on it when we need it.
So, we humans do have worries, and another one is global warming. This problem deserves more serious discussion because, believe it or not, this has the potential to cause massive death to the people of Earth. Can we continue to gamble and do nothing? Global warming and a nuclear conflict, as well as losing our effective antibiotics, should call for more planning and diplomacy. Level heads need to prevail. Encourage action now.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.