This week on Health Matters, the World Health Organization has declared antimicrobial resistance one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity. Dr. Dao Nguyen discusses how researchers are preparing for a world where antibiotics no longer work.
(Time on podcast: 19:50) The WHO has declared antimicrobial resistance as one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity. Experts are predicting that by 2050, we could be living where antibiotics no longer work. To put this in perspective, basic surgeries or chemotherapy that rely on antibiotics will be impacted. Minor infections will become serious and once routine interventions could stop being safe. Antibiotic resistance in itself exists in nature. But, after using antibiotics in abundance over the past 50 years, the impact of antibiotic resistance is becoming obvious. We also have to understand that antibiotic use or overuse is not limited to the medical field. Antibiotics are widely used in agriculture and farming. As we have used antibiotics in large amounts in so many spheres, we are indirectly contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistance. The development of antibiotic resistance in these superbugs is essentially “survival of the fittest” in which these superbugs acquire properties that allow them to survive under stress.
The Antimicrobial Resistance Center (AMR) at McGill is a new center that is bringing together over 40 researchers from a wide range of Faculties and Departments with the aim to promote interdisciplinary research to tackle antimicrobial resistance and superbugs. There are now many solutions that are bring studied to tackle antimicrobial resistance. There are efforts to better and more quickly diagnose infections. In parallel, there are efforts to inform and change policy. There are also efforts to develop new drugs and non-antibiotic ways to treat and prevent infections.
Efforts at the MUCH include building a research platform in the ICU to better understand, diagnose and treat infections in the ICU. Patients in the ICU are incredibly vulnerable, require life support to breath, and are vulnerable to infection complications, such as pneumonias. The COVID-19 pandemic made us all aware of the level or complex care ICUs provide to patients.