Antibiotics constitute one of the most consequential medical advancements of the past century. We rely on them to battle infections and disease, and they’re often the first line of defence in emergency rooms and physician offices across the globe. But what happens when they stop working? This may sound like an apocalyptic premise, but the warning signs are undeniable. The new documentary short Antibiotic Resistance, produced by Australia’s ABCTV Catalyst series, examines this oncoming crisis from the inside.
The documentary lays out the building blocks of this dilemma in a precise and scientific, yet easy-to-understand manner. We come in contact with countless microscopic bacteria every minute of our lives. The right balance aids in healthy digestion and an improved quality of life. When running amok, however, these bacteria can pose a severe threat to mankind. The invention of antibiotics in the 1940s gave hope to a medical community desperate to curb mortality rates from infection, and it’s proven to be one of the greatest inventions in modern medicine.
The bacteria are fighting back and winning. Strains of bacteria such as E. coli are becoming more and more adept at resisting our antibiotic treatments. The more we take, the greater that resistance becomes. In some cases, these strains can evolve and regenerate within twenty minutes – far too quickly for medical science to catch up. This has resulted in increased instances of hospital infections, sepsis, illness and death. It affects how well our bodies process the bacterial content of the food we eat.
Ironically, our heavy reliance on antibiotics could spell the end of this miracle treatment. As the filmmakers discover, this problem is particularly pronounced in Australia, which ranks as the largest user of antibiotics in the world at 30 million prescriptions annually. The medical community is looking within and urging for more awareness and self-regulation in order to curb the liberal use of antibiotic drugs.
Antibiotic Resistance takes us on a tour of various industries – from healthcare to agriculture – where researchers are working feverishly to combat this potential calamity. Will these displays of ingenuity save the day? Only time will tell, and the clock is ticking.