Antibiotics are excellent at healing infections in the short term. However, their ready availability has led doctors to prescribe them indiscriminately and this can lead to resistance in bacteria.

In other words, their widely prevalent use will inevitably result in antibiotics being completely ineffective against the very infections they are manufactured for. Patients with such antibiotic-resistant infections may either rely on their immunity alone to help them recover or on the discovery of new antibiotics. Unfortunately, the former is based on chance and luck, while the probability of the latter happening is highly unlikely.

The birth of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in 1961 presents one such outcome of the misuse of antibiotics. The example is often used to tell the story of how a mere hospital nuisance evolved into a public health concern. One of the long term solutions to this issue lies in domesticating germs, as suggested by leading evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald on TEDTalk, and by eating superfoods to boost immunity.

Perhaps a more short-term, practical approach to preventing antibiotic resistance, especially in countries like Pakistan, is to simply only prescribe them when it is necessary and if the infection fails to heal on its own. Antibiotic resistance is a serious issue and should be dealt with extreme caution and aggression globally.

ARSALAN SHAMIM KHAN,

Islamabad, November 17.