One wonders whether we are looking at an impending health crisis, with the most effective medicine that we have known to fight bacteria of various classifications well-nigh becoming ineffective due to their random and indiscriminate use. It has been more so during the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw increased consumption of antibiotics as a quick fix against a hitherto unknown virus. It is feared that most of the nearly one crore people in Bangladesh who had suffered illnesses that mimicked Covid-19, took antibiotics and other drugs. One wonders what we might face in the future if 17 antibiotics are losing their efficacy against the 10 types of illnesses caused by bacterial infection. In future, we will have been left with only three drugs to fight bacterial diseases. These fears are based on extensive studies carried out by specialists and specialised institutions.
The health ministry and relevant administrations should explore the reasons for the situation coming to such a pass. They must take heed of the findings of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 and ensure that all protocols related to the treatment of the pandemic are followed. One of the reasons for the quantum rise in the use of antibiotics is the violation of this protocol. Also, there is much to be said about quality of the drugs; as usual, lack of monitoring and failure to ensure the production standards in pharmaceutical industries have led to lower quality drugs entering the market. It is essential also to take measures to stop antibiotics from entering the food chain, which is happening due to non-therapeutic use of antibiotics for fattening up animals. It is time to consider banning over-the-counter sale of antibiotics. More than any other country, we believe, we have more people who are disposed to self-medication. There is also the practice of not finishing antibiotic courses that has contributed to resistance to antibiotics.
This matter demands immediate attention. Otherwise, the fear of the chairman of Pharmacology at BSMMU—that we might not have any drugs left to treat bacterial infections in future because all the known bacteria have acquired resistance against extant antibiotics—may come true.