The fight against antibiotic resistance is our greatest contribution
BioGaia’s efforts to combat antibiotic resistance are the company’s primary focus in the sustainability area. Peter Rothschild explains how BioGaia aims to contribute on several fronts.
Antibiotic resistance is a hot topic. Everywhere, we can read about the catastrophic consequences that can become a reality if antibiotics stop functioning as the effective treatment they have been for close to a century. Antibiotics are a basic fundament of modern healthcare, and when they no longer work we will be thrown back to 1927, the year before penicillin was discovered. A minor wound can then become a serious infection that is impossible to cure, and major surgery may have to be cancelled. The list of potential consequences is endless.
Already today, some 25,000 Europeans are dying every year as a result of antibiotic resistance. This is a figure that is as alarming as it is shocking, but also one that will unfortunately increase dramatically unless more is done to stop it.
Sweden is a frontrunner in this area and one of the few countries in the world where the problem of resistant bacteria is still comparatively minor. We were early to take action on both the human and animal side. We have since long had an effective system for spreading information and our already relatively low use of antibiotics has continued to decline. And yet, this is not enough. Alongside the hunt for new antibiotics, we must work on several fronts simultaneously – just as the bacteria are doing.
More preventive efforts
Without a doubt, the work being carried out by Strama (the Swedish strategic program against antibiotic resistance), the Swedish Public Health Agency and ReAct is incredibly important, but more needs to be done. I’m convinced that we also need to devote ourselves to more preventive measures. These can include utilizing the available technologies, for example to reduce the risk for infection in connection with surgical procedures or rapid diagnostics to identify which antibiotic will work best on a patient’s infection. They can also involve strengthening our immune system by increasing our intake of minerals, vitamins and probiotics. This has been shown in several studies with both Lactobacillus reuteri and other substances, such as vitamin D. It has also been demonstrated that there is a clear connection between a strengthened immune defence, fewer infections and lower use of antibiotics.
Save the antibiotics to when it is really needed
By adding this to the arsenal of measures we already know can prevent infections, we can reduce the need for antibiotic treatment. And by doing so we can avoid allowing bacteria to develop a resistance so that antibiotics become ineffective. Antibiotics can then be saved for the situations where they are truly needed. To achieve this we need targeted educational programmes for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals about scientifically proven methods to boost the immune defence. The healthcare sector also needs to become more active in informing the public about how to strengthen their ability to fend off infections.
BioGaia is actively participating in the debate through articles and participation in TV programs and podcasts. We are also talking to politicians at the county and parliamentary level and other decision-makers to raise the stakes when it comes to preventing infections that would otherwise have required antibiotics. On 5 April we will hold a seminar in the Swedish Parliament to highlight this issue. We also have a newsletter and a Twitter account that spread knowledge about new findings.
Antibiotic resistance affects every one of us. At BioGaia, we are stepping up our efforts to combat one of the greatest global threats to public health.
“We need to stop using antibiotics where they are not needed”
By preventing infections, we can reduce the need for antibiotics.
- Strengthen our immune system with the help of minerals, vitamins, probiotics, sleep, exercise and reduced stress.
- Targeted initiatives to train healthcare professionals.
- Use the available techniques to reduce the risk for infections in connection with surgery and hospital visits.