Failing antibiotics causing global health crisis : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

12 November 2000 1544 hrs (GMT) 2344 hrs (SST)

Failing antibiotics causing global health crisis

A bacteria which commonly leads to pneumonia in Singapore is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Figures obtained from the Singapore General Hospital show that penicillin didn't work against the straptococcus pneumonia bacteria for nearly four out of 10 cases four years ago.

Two years later this figure went up to nearly six in every 10 patients.

Channel NewsAsia found out from some doctors that other bacteria are also increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Doctors also said that this is not confined to Singapore.

It is a global healthcare crisis and one which is caused by misuse of antibiotics and the rise of new strains of antibiotic resistant superbugs.

Dr Paul E Zakowich, Internal Medicine Specialist, Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, said: "Superbugs are bacteria that are resistant to a lot of the standard antibiotics that we use. For these superbugs, we must use antibiotics that are more expensive and of higher generation."

For instance, a methicillin-resistant superbug, the MRSA, found its way to Singapore in 1985 and some strains of the sore throat-causing straptococcus type A bacteria - commonly dubbed the "flesh-eating bacteria"- have become antibiotic-resistant too.

Another superbug has developed from a common strain of pseudomonas aeruginosa.

It was found in a patient with an infection.

Ng Kit Ping, a microbiologist, Pathology & Clinical Laboratory, said, "We collected a sample of the urine, sent to our lab and when we tested it we found that it was pseudomonas aeruginosa. When we tested the sensitivity, that means what drugs can kill the bacteria, we found that all the drugs we tested cannot cure it."

Doctors say one reason for this is because unneccessarily strong antiobiotics have been used or an infection has been under-treated which leads to bacteria mutating into superbugs.

So pharmaceutical companies have to develop even stronger drugs to counter them.

But this may be a problem as doctors say that superbugs develop faster than the development of new antibiotics.

The only recourse now is to educate healthcare workers and the public so that doctors prescribe appropriate dosages and complete their antibiotics course faithfully to stem the growth of superbugs.

-- Martin Thompson (, November 12, 2000

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