Antibiotic resistance: ‘a faceless pandemic’
The rapid increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria – in South Africa and across the globe – is driven by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans and food-producing animals and poses a huge threat to modern medicine.
This is the view of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Professor Marc Mendelson, the head of the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has also recently been re-appointed the chairperson of the national Department of Health’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that render ineffective the medications (antimicrobials) used to treat and cure the infections they cause. In South Africa, this type of drug resistance impacts tuberculosis (TB), HIV, malaria, and fungal infections. According to Professor Mendelson, antibiotic-resistant bacteria threaten modern medicine as we know it.
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