UAE Hospital Admissions Rise: Doctors and Drug-Resistant Germs

Frontline medical professionals face an escalating challenge in dealing with drug-resistant bacteria, which has led to a surge in hospital admissions for common infections.

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Battling Drug-Resistant Bacteria: A Growing Concern in the Arabian Gulf

The Arabian Gulf, with its rapid population growth and substantial influx of migrants, is increasingly susceptible to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a major global threat to healthcare. Overuse and inappropriate prescriptions of antibiotics are exacerbating the problem, causing once-effective oral drugs to lose their potency against common ailments, necessitating the administration of more powerful intravenous antibiotics. This rise in resistance poses additional risks, prolongs patient recovery times, and escalates medical expenses, highlighting the urgency to address this real and present issue.

The Growing Impact of AMR in Healthcare Settings: Challenges, Limited Treatment Options, and Looming Global Threat

AMR's impact is particularly pronounced within healthcare settings, as resistant bacteria can easily spread through patient contact, among staff, and via contaminated surfaces and medical devices. The use of higher-grade antibiotics, although more expensive and associated with worse side effects, becomes necessary when patients develop intolerance or resistance to conventional medications, leaving healthcare providers with fewer treatment options. Antimicrobial agents are vital in modern medicine, but their misuse has enabled microorganisms to adapt and become increasingly resistant to antibiotics and antivirals. According to the UN, AMR accounted for an estimated five million deaths in 2019, and this figure is projected to double by 2050, rivaling the death toll from cancer.

AMR Challenges in Low and Middle-Income Countries: Factors, Risks, and Prudent Antibiotic Use in Bronchitis Cases

Low and middle-income countries face higher risks due to factors such as poverty, poor sanitation, hygiene, and pollution, which contribute to infections that could become more challenging to treat in the future due to AMR. Patients who have been exposed to frequent antibiotic treatments or have received incomplete courses are at higher risk of developing resistance. Amidst the current humid and dusty weather conditions, bronchitis cases are on the rise, emphasizing the importance of prudent antibiotic use. Experts stress that antibiotics should only be prescribed when there is strong suspicion of a bacterial infection or if a sputum culture confirms an infection. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics for viral or allergic bronchitis can contribute to unnecessary antimicrobial resistance and jeopardize patient well-being.

UAE's Strategic Plan to Tackle AMR: Multi-Sector Collaboration and Enhanced Infection Control Measures in Hospitals

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the UAE has developed a strategic national plan to combat AMR, involving collaboration between healthcare, food, animal, and environment sectors. Hospitals have shifted their focus to improved infection prevention and control measures and tighter surveillance of antimicrobial prescriptions. Addressing the issue, Jumana Yousef Megdadi, an infectious diseases clinical pharmacist and chairwoman of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee at Burjeel, highlights the importance of reducing the use of specific antibiotics to combat resistance effectively.

AMR Threatens Patients as UAE Doctors Face Challenges: Urgent Need for New Antibiotics and Collaborative Solutions

As drug-resistant infections pose a significant risk, doctors may resort to combining antibiotics, which can carry additional dangers, especially for immunocompromised patients. When antimicrobial treatment fails, sepsis can lead to organ failure and death. Long-term care patients are particularly vulnerable, as bacteria may develop resistance to all available antibiotics. New antibiotic medications are essential to combat AMR effectively. Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer are dedicating their efforts to research and develop novel drugs to strengthen the arsenal of bug-fighting medications. Collaborative efforts between governments, industry, and the public health community are crucial to take action against AMR, supporting innovative research, development, and responsible use of antimicrobials to ensure the continued efficacy of these life-saving medications.

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