‘Antibiotic resistance can be a threat to our health’

The television presenter, who was in the city recently, talks about why she feels antibiotics are being overused

Misuse of antibiotics and scams around the same are rampant in India. Movies and television series have explored this issue with much interest. The latest to join the series is ‘The Truth About Antibiotics (Healthy Binge), on Sony BBC Earth. Angela Rippon, presenter of the series, who was in the city recently, talks about why she believes that people are entering a potentially devastating post-antibiotic era. In a chat with Metrolife, Angela talks about the making of the series and more.  

Prescribing antibiotics for every illness has become routine these days for doctors. Why don’t doctors wait and access the situation before jumping into conclusions?

Doctors do usually try to wait and even persuade patients that antibiotics are not the solution to their ills.  However, some patients become violent and aggressive when faced with this decision.  So, in the film, you will see that doctors in Britain are trialling a small piece of equipment that will allow doctors to do a blood test and tell within three minutes if the illness is the result of a virus or bacterial infection.  This has made a dramatic reduction in their prescriptions for antibiotics over a six-month period.

Are people of all age groups becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics?

It is not people that have become resistant to antibiotics – it is the bacteria which has become resistant to antibiotics, because of them being overused. Antibiotics work only against bacteria and not against viral infection.

What are the long-term effects of continuous use of antibiotics?

The bacteria are such clever organisms that they are becoming more and more resistant to everything that current medical science can throw at them.  That is why in the future we need a continuous stream of new antibiotics that the bacteria are not familiar with – which currently we are losing. The most frightening thing is that people are overusing antibiotics and are using them for ailments that don’t really require their use. It is believed that in five to 10 years of time all the bacteria will be so resistant to antibiotics, its consumption will have no effect on the body.

There have been many movies made around antibiotic misuse and scams related to these. Do these movies help spread awareness?  

Yes of course. The more publicity and awareness we can bring to this subject the more people will realize that antibiotic resistance is a real threat to our health in the future. This can lead to routine operations, childbirth and even cancer treatments becoming vulnerable to infection that cannot be treated.

Many people refer to the internet and take medicines. Why do you think this happens?  

My guess is that they sometimes find it easier than going to the doctor.  But self-medicating is not a good idea when you are not qualified to know exactly what is wrong with you and what treatment would be appropriate.  It means you increase the risk of misdiagnosis and mistreatment. People should not insist on consuming it unless they have a bacterial infection.


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