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Toolbox  –  Understand

Why should I care? - Risks for the individual and society

Antibiotic resistant bacteria are spreading at an alarming rate and can affect anyone, anywhere on the planet. In this section, risks associated with antibiotic resistance and antibiotic use are discussed from the perspective of the individual and society.

Antibiotics can be life-saving medicines. However, they are often used when not needed or when not effective. Many regard antibiotics as the remedy for any infection, and that they can be used without negative consequences. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Risks associated with antibiotic resistance and use

Antibiotic use drives resistance development and spread. Already, several diseases are increasingly difficult to treat due to antibiotic resistance. Children are especially at risk.

At the same time, very few new antibiotics are under development to replace antibiotics that no longer work. If this development is allowed to continue it is predicted to have major negative consequences for human health and be a huge economic burden for society. Antibiotic use can also have direct negative effects on the individual consumer, such as allergic reactions.

Circle diagram that summarize the information described in the text.
Figure 1. Overview of risks associated with antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic use from the perspective of the individual.
Figure 2. Overview of drivers and consequences associated with antibiotic resistance from the perspective of society.

The sub-pages in this section describe these consequences in more detail.

Below are selected resources discussing a possible future where antibiotics have ceased to function as well as the already devastating consequences of multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Selected Resources

Resource Description
Treatment of newborn sepsis is threatened: Effective antibiotics are essential for childrens’ survival Report from ReAct. Presents the results of a global survey on neonatal sepsis and antibiotic resistance. Based on responses from over 400 physicians in 74 countries.
What if we lost the use of antibiotics? Article interview with professor Otto Cars about the current antibiotic resistance situation and  possible consequences in the future.
Superbugs Podcast documentary about the spread of multidrug resistant bacteria (UK).
Hunting the nightmare bacteria Video documentary about multi-resistant “superbugs” spreading across the world, and the affected people (by Frontline), 55 min.