Reshaping how we think about antibiotics and drug-resistant infections
A new research project - 'Story Bug' - is aiming to reshape how we think about and value antibiotics, by telling the stories of people who have been affected by drug-resistant infection.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest healthcare challenges facing us in the UK and globally. Together, we need to find ways to prevent resistance from emerging.Becky McCall
Antibiotic resistance – often referred to as part of the umbrella term antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – happens when bacteria evolve ways to survive treatment. According to a study in The Lancet medical journal, AMR was associated with an estimated 4.95 million deaths worldwide in 2019, of which 1.2 million were directly attributable to drug resistance.
Factors such as misuse and overuse of antibiotics (for example, when they’re prescribed to treat the common cold) have accelerated this phenomenon of resistance. Resistance is concerning, as medical professionals rely on antibiotics to treat a range of life-threatening conditions, including pneumonia. And we often hear about antibiotic resistance in the media through stories about hospital ‘superbugs’ such as MRSA or C. diff.
Becky McCall, a PhD student on our National PhD Training Programme in AMR Research, is based at UCL’s Institute of Health Informatics. "Antibiotics are our best friend and our worst enemy," says Becky. "These drugs are a vital tool in fighting infections which, left untreated, could cause serious illness or even death. But overuse of antibiotics is encouraging bacteria to become resistant to their effects, leaving infections to worsen – sometimes fatally."
"Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest healthcare challenges facing us in the UK and globally. Together, we need to find ways to prevent resistance from emerging. Story Bug aims to be part of this effort by gathering personal stories of people who have been affected – either themselves or their loved ones – so we can gauge attitudes towards antibiotics and hopefully change people’s thinking."
If you or a friend/relative have been affected by antibiotic resistance, Story Bug would like to hear your personal story of this experience – a situation where use of one antibiotic after another failed to stop an infection, and it worsened.
To contribute, or for further information, visit Story Bug's online platform.
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