What Is Public Health?
Public health is the science of improving health, preventing diseases, and prolonging life. It promotes ideas of how to remain healthy and happy through organized events, for instance, promoting breastfeeding, hand washing, the need to use vaccinations, distributing condoms, preventing suicides, etc.
Its main goal is to be aware of threats to human health based on data analysis and warn people about them, also giving ideas how they to improve the overall well-being. The population can be small as a several people to several continents. According to WHO, health is a state of social, mental, and physical well-being, and not just absence of infirmity or disease.
Public health needs to use help of health professionals and workers, such as physicians, psychologists, dentists, epidemiologists, microbiologists, etc. Public health promotes open and free information, which allows people to be aware of various threats and how they can deal with them, and that is why public health is so important.
What Is Antibiotic Resistance?
Humans have been living on Earth for about 200,000 years ago, and only for the last seventy years, we have been using synthetic antibiotics for the treatment of various bacterial diseases. The development of the first antibacterial agent called penicillin was a breakthrough for humanity. For many years, people were able to easily treat infections from which during previous thousands of years people would just die. Unfortunately, developing a potent drug is not enough because bacteria become able to resist the effects of medications. One of the reasons for that is the massive use of antibacterial agents.
Bacteria are able to reproduce, maintain internal conditions, and do other actions typical for all living things, including adapting to the changes in the environment. When bacteria experience the effects of antibiotics, they may use different mechanisms to survive, which is called antibiotic resistance. The major problem is that bacteria are able to share their successful experience with others through plasmids.
When antibiotic resistance occurs, other antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections, but, unfortunately, sometimes none of them works. There have been many cases of people dying from antibiotic resistance. It is important to develop new medications, and we should do it quicker than bacteria become resistant.
According to the CDC, at least two million people are infected with bacteria that resistant to antimicrobials agents in the USA annually and about 23,000 of them die. Unfortunately, according to forecasts, this number will grow year by year, unless people manage to prevent the occurrence of bacterial resistance and start developing potent drugs. In several years, we may face millions of people’s death because of antibiotic resistance. Public health has to be directed on warning people about the threat and letting them know how it is possible to help.
How Public Health Can Help Prevent Antibiotic Resistance
Although antibiotic resistance may occur even if you use the right medication for the treatment of certain bacterial infections, it is mostly has become such a major problem because of massive use of antibiotics, including cases when they should not have been really used.
Antibiotics really should not be used as they are used today, meaning that the use of antibacterial agents should be based on special tests, confirming the presence of a bacterial infection and informing about the type of bacteria causing it. Antibiotics are often prescribed based on “guessing” or “just in case” principle. This happens because people are not aware of the problem and it is easier and time-consuming to use antibiotics than undergo special tests.
The role of public health is to deliver to all people the information about the problem, and about the actions that they can do in order to prevent it. Public health should inform people that they should not use antibiotics for the treatment of viral infections. People should also know that it is also important to prevent the occurrence of bacterial infections by washing hands, using condoms, avoiding using things of other people, etc.
Basically, public health should deliver the needed information, so each person could be aware of what is happening, why it is dangerous, and how to prevent it.
What Can Medical Professionals Do in Order to Prevent Antibiotic Resistance?
Although the role of public health is really important, many people take their warnings as not necessary and do not pay much attention to them. Medical professionals are those who are dealing with people who got sick. They should avoid prescribing antibiotics if it is not necessary. Also, it is important to insist on taking specials test if the type of bacteria causing an infection is uncertain.
Healthcare providers should in details explain the need to follow all of their recommendations. Often, people do not take antibacterials for the needed time. Once they feel some relief, they think that the infection has been fought, and there is no need to continue using antibiotics. This is a big mistake, because in reality bacteria are not killed, and they will keep causing infections, and, moreover, they will become resistant to the antibiotic that has been used to treat them before.
Prophylaxis is one of the reasons why antibiotic are used. Almost all surgeries are accompanied by the use of antibacterial agents to prevent complications. As studies have shown, such an approach is not always necessary, and antibiotics for prophylaxis should be used only for people in a high-risk group.
All in all, public health can do a lot of useful things for preventing antibiotic resistance, and one of them is informing as many people as possible about the threat.