Antibiotic resistance: current issues and future strategies

  • Giancarlo Scarafile PhD Hygiene, Health Public and Food Safety
Keywords: Bacterial pathogens, Antibiotic resistance, Hospitals


The antibiotic resistance (antimicrobial resistance – AMR) and the particular emergence of multi-resistant bacterial strains, is a problem of clinical relevance involving serious threats to public health worldwide. From early this decade, a lot of studies have demonstrated a significant increase in the rates of antibiotic resistance by bacterial pathogens responsible for nosocomial and community infections all over the world. The AMR leads to a reduced drug efficacy in the treatment options available and therefore, to an increase in mortality rates. The original causes of the phenomenon are: environmental factors which favor a mutation of the genetic bacterial inheritance, thereby inhibiting the active ingredient of the antibiotics; unsuitable administering of antibiotics in veterinary, incorrect taking both in hospitals and at home and, lately, lack of investments in the development of new drugs. The alarming epidemiological data prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2011 to coin the slogan "No action today, no cure tomorrow" in order to immediately implement a new strategy to improve the use of available drugs and to accelerate the introduction of new ones through a new phase of research involving private and public institutions. The European Union has stressed that the surveillance is considered an essential factor for an effective response to this problem but it has also highlighted that the results produced have been lower than expectations because of serious shortcomings such as lack of methodological standards, insufficient data sharing and no coordination among European countries. In Italy the situation is much more troubling; in fact, according to the Ministry of Health, 5000-7000 yearly deaths are deemed due to nosocomial infections, with an annual cost of more than 100 million €.These figures explain how the fight against infections is far from being won. The purpose of this review is to analyze the basic causes of the recurrence of the phenomenon, to explain the steps taken by the most important international organizations to face AMR and finally to suggest a possible way to search for new classes of antibiotics.


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