Drug Resistance Grows Menacingly

Nana Taona Kuo | Bangkok Post | December 21, 2015

Every five minutes a child in Southeast Asia dies from an infection caused by drug-resistant bacteria -- a situation that is likely to get worse. Anti-microbial resistance, which happens when micro-organisms become less susceptible to antibiotics, is making diseases more difficult to contain and harder to cure. Diseases we no longer fear, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, are re-emerging as major killers, as the tools we use to fight them become less effective.

It's a daunting prospect, one that I have experienced myself. Not so long ago, my daughter, who just entered kindergarten, developed a fever. I assumed it was nothing and would soon pass. But it lingered, and lingered. I remember the crawling fear as I watched her getting weaker and weaker, and I realised that the medicines were not working. I was fortunate, and could take her to a well-equipped clinic, where doctors treated her with more potent antibiotics, and she recovered. But too many children are not so lucky.

Drug resistance is also complicating the treatment of old and relatively common diseases, such as pneumonia, and systematically eroding generational improvements in global health. The reduction in maternal and child deaths over the past 15 years, for instance, was in great part due to increased vaccine coverage and access to antibiotics.
Drug resistance also jeopardises our chances of achieving internationally agreed health targets. Efforts at tackling malaria, for example, are being undermined by an increased resistance to drugs...