Waiting for new-age antibiotics  

Shihab Sarkar     | Published: July 13, 2019 22:12:31 | Updated: July 15, 2019 22:20:30

The worldwide pharmaceutical sector is at present passing through an edgy time. It's true the breaking of new ground in therapeutic inventions continues to marvel people. The ailing millions experience a new lease of life in the new remedies to hitherto incurable diseases. But the march has lately started faltering thanks to the dampers it continues to meet along the way. The most significant of these impediments is the identification of bacteria which are resistant to all antibiotics. The discovery of penicillin, the earliest form of antibiotic, in 1928, by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming, is considered one of the watersheds in medicinal history. Following the invention, the antibiotic medicines derived from it were viewed as virtual panacea in the modern times. The virtual magic drug has dominated the world's pharmaceutical domain for more than sixty years. It began to be widely used in the 1940s.

It's shocking to see doctors and pharmaceutical wizards have dumped the revolutionary drug as being ineffective in its fight against a number of life-threatening bacteria. To their utter confusion and helplessness, they have consigned the glory days of antibiotic medicines to the abyss of oblivion --- at least for now. Few can say whether another therapeutically wonder-medicine like antibiotic could reach the patients anytime soon. Medicinal experts blame indiscriminate application of the drug along with many others, and also its overuse, for its current plight. The most appalling aspect of the episode is the availability of an alternative to antibiotic is still elusive. In the meantime, patients with complicated diseases and terminal illness are said to be doomed to prolonged sufferings and, in extreme cases, avoidable deaths. The poorer countries are the most vulnerable, with inadequate medical facilities.

Bangladesh falls among those countries. But according to people acquainted with the country's health sector, it can still keep itself free of the global anarchic situation caused by the ineffectuality of antibiotics. Like the ancient Egypt, Greece and the later India, Bangladesh has been profusely rich in its herbal medicine resources. Being a land filled with rare medicinal trees and herbs, it once attained self-sufficiency in producing various types of herbal therapies for seemingly incurable diseases. Owing to the worldwide reputation enjoyed by the ancient Egypt and parts of the sub-continent as great sources of medicinal plants, Bangladesh and many other areas in the world continued to be bypassed. The latter included the inaccessible segments of the Amazon rainforest encompassing Brazil, Peru and Colombia, and the pristine forests in Ecuador, Honduras and some other countries in South and Central America. Modern allopathic and all alternative medicines have their origins in plants --- their barks, leaves, the flowers and their roots. Such trees rich with medicinal properties are also found in abundance in the Far East and Southeast Asian botanical regions. Its time globally operating pharmaceutical companies turned to the hitherto untapped woodlands and other drug sources in order to manufacture antibiotics capable of battling bacteria.

An issue which is generally glossed over is the impact of pollution on human health while discussing the failure of the existing antibiotics to fight bacteria. Almost all the aspects of the modern life have long been bearing the brunt of the increasing volume of atmospheric pollution. Life-saving drugs produced in such a hostile condition cannot remain free of the agents of health-related hazards. Despite doomsayers' defeatist stance, 21st century Alexander Flemings are perhaps not sitting idle. Maybe it will take some more time before they bring to the world the new-generation antibiotics. The person or persons might even rise from the Bangladeshis. The drugs ought to be stronger than their earlier versions; because they will engage in a battle against some bacteria which are dreadfully monstrous.






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