Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist August 2014 Contents Antimicrobial resistance is no longer a
prediction for the future; it is happening
now according to a report released
in April this year by the World Health
Organization (WHO) – its first to look
at antimicrobial resistance, including
antibiotic resistance, globally.
Andrew Daniels discovers that the report,
Antimicrobial resistance: global report
on surveillance, concluded that this is
happening right now in every region of
the world and has the potential to affect
anyone, of any age, in any country.
The report is blunt. It says antibiotic
resistance – when bacteria change so
antibiotics no longer work in people
who need them to treat infections
– is now a major threat to public
Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant
Director-General for Health Security,
said that without urgent, coordinated
action by many stakeholders, the world
was headed for a post-antibiotic era, in
which common infections and minor
injuries which have been treatable for
decades can once again kill.
‘Effective antibiotics have been one of
the pillars allowing us to live longer,
live healthier, and benefit from modern
medicine. Unless we take significant
actions to improve efforts to prevent
infections and also change how we
produce, prescribe and use antibiotics,
the world will lose more and more of
these global public health goods and
the implications will be devastating,’
Dr Fukuda said.
Speaking at a media conference when
the report was launched, Dr Fukuda
emphasised that this was not a
regional phenomenon. ‘ This is not a
phenomenon occurring in just poor
countries or developing countries or in
rich countries or developed countries.
This is something which is occurring in
all countries in the world,’ he said.
Andrew Daniels is Managing Editor of Australian
Pharmacist based at the PSA Canberra office.
A graphic lesson on what this all means
for people in Australia can be taken from
history, from the era before antibiotics.
Robert and Elizabeth Mitson lived in
southern Tasmania in the second half of
the 19th Century.
They had six children.
Robert was a blacksmith and, at one
stage, a publican in the Huon Valley.
He met Elizabeth when she was working
in a hotel in Hobart.
According to family legend, as a
barefoot girl Elizabeth stowed away on a
sailing ship to Australia when it called at
the port of Dublin in Ireland. The captain
discovered her when the ship was well
out to sea. A clergyman travelling on
the ship accepted responsibility for her
passage and in return Elizabeth helped
his wife look after their family.
Robert and Elizabeth’s first-born child,
Alice, was born on 16 January, 1842,
in Hobart, and baptised 20 February at
St David’s Hobart. She died 24 March,
1842, at their home in Campbell Street,
aged 2 months.
Five years later, on 14 June, 1847, another
daughter, Emma Jane, born. The following
year William Stuart was born. In 1850
another son, Henry, arrived, followed
by another daughter, Louisa, in 1851,
and another, Eliza in 1852.
The Mitsons must have been delighted
to have such a large family after the
premature death of their first daughter
in 1842. Sadly, tragedy struck again in
1853 – 11 months after Eliza’s birth.
In 1853 scarlet fever swept through
Hobart. All five children died
within three weeks of one another.
They were all buried in the graveyard
at St George’s, Battery Point.
William Stuart (aged 4); the first
of the siblings to die probably
contracted scarlet fever and
passed it on to his brothers and
sisters. He died on 22 July, Emma
Jane (aged 5) died on 12 August.
Henry (aged 3) died on 13 August,
Louisa (aged 2) on 14 August and Eliza
(aged 11 months) on 15 August.
The effect on the parents was
devastating. Elizabeth had a morbid
attitude to childhood illness for the rest
of her life. When she died, aged 62, in
1888 the five children were mentioned
on her grave – Also five children of the
above, interred in St George’s Burial
ground, died July and August 1853.2
Scarlet fever killed 29 people in
Tasmania in 1852 and 230 more in 1853.
Today scarlet fever can be treated with
antibiotics. It is caused by an infection
with group A streptococcus bacteria.
The bacteria make a toxin that can cause
the scarlet-colored rash which is where
it gets its name.
The WHO report lends support to the
strong possibility of history repeating
itself and tragedies similar to that
described above happening again –
A lesson from history...
Links Archive Australian Pharmacist September 2014 Australian Pharmacist July 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page