It’s important to understand, as we have mentioned before, that when it comes to all healthcare, prevention is far superior than attempting to cure. While this has always been true, it’s even more important in modern hospitals, care homes, schools, homes and everywhere else.
What’s the reason for this? There has arguably been an over dependence in recent decades on antibiotics and similar treatments for any and all illnesses. Sometimes a trial and error approach is used to treat unknown problems and patients can be exposed to a huge range of treatments and chemicals. Over time this has begun to pose a widely publicised problem, as superbugs have developed that are resistant to antibiotics and leave patients with serious illnesses that have to be managed but can’t be treated. Of course when patients in hospitals become ill, they often belong the most vulnerable groups already, such as the elderly, plus they most likely have weakened immune systems.
One other root cause of this problem relates back to the antibiotics, and not just the lack of care that allows the viruses to spread. A reason that antibiotics have arguably been overused is because the sales of these drugs naturally provide profit for their manufacturers. Unfortunately there is no way round this age old problem, since the funds to produce drugs commercially are not available without leaving the market free i.e. the potential to make profit is always there. Healthcare systems around the world have to deal with this potential issue, but for the most part it is under control.
The problem here does, however, start from the incentive for antibiotic suppliers to produce and sell more, increasing their profits. This has definitely been a factor in a growing overdependence on drugs for patients, which in turn increases the risk posed by superbugs. For this reason, there is growing pressure on governments to start enforcing a new business model for the production and sale of antibiotics. According to published reports, the concept of this system should be based on heavier investment by governments themselves and taking away the pressure on sales to make a profit. Instead, the emphasis should ideally be on research and further development, and incentivising companies to focus on this in future. This is arguably a more sustainable solution as we might be able to push the boundaries of antibiotic research while avoiding the problems caused by supplying too many prescriptions. However, whether governments can construct this scheme while maintaining the necessary funding and ensuring all countries have access is another question.