It is a health catastrophe predicted to kill 10 million people by 2050 (1) and has been described by scientists (2) and politicians (3) as worse than COVID-19.
But at least those suffering from antibiotic resistant infections such as MRSA and bacterial pneumonia now have a National Lottery funded Patient Support Service, to offer them free advice and encouragement.
And it is backed by Sarah Whitlow, the granddaughter of the creator of penicillin and arguably the nation’s greatest scientist, Sir Alexander Fleming.
Run by Antibiotic Research UK, the Patient Support Service has already created support groups, compiled case studies, presented at major events and helped dozens of folks by telephone and email – including those laid low by bladder infections. An award of £3,500 from the National Lottery Community Fund will enable the charity to staff their helpline even more effectively and bolster online information.
“As far back as the 1930’s, my grandfather warned that if not constantly developed and improved upon, bacteria in our bodies would become resistant to antibiotics and we would return to an age where you could die from something as a simple as a scratch” said Sarah, “that moment has now come. At least those suffering from ongoing infections can get information, encouragement and support and having been introduced to them at the 90th anniversary of my grandfather’s discovery of penicillin, are in expert hands with Antibiotic Research UK.”
Coordinated by Arlene Brailey, former Assistant Director of Pharmacy (NHS Scotland), the programme has so far helped people like Lisa who is prone to chest infections and who hasn’t ventured from her bedroom since Lockdown began and Sheila (not her real name) who has endured urinary tract infections for over half-a-century (see more Patient Support case studies by visiting https://www.antibioticresearch.org.uk/find-support/patient-stories/).
Aside from supporting patients and their families, Antibiotic Research UK is searching for alternative treatments to our increasingly redundant antibiotics – with some gut and sexually transmitted infections almost totally resistant to treatment.
One of the biggest challenges the charity has faced is getting decision-makers, medics, and the pharmaceutical industry to take the matter seriously. Which is why Chief Executive Professor Colin Garner is particularly pleased with this award.
“With up to 50% of charities in serious danger of closure due to the cancellation of fundraising activities, the competition for emergency funding was intense” revealed Colin, “the fact that we were successful, shows that the Scottish Lottery appreciates how worrying the situation is and provides a strong endorsement of our patient facing activities .
That said, this award is just the tip of the iceberg. We need a global, whole societal approach to solving a problem that may dwarf COVID-19. With this additional funding we we will be able to raise the profile of antibiotic resistance and help improve the lives of some seriously ill people.”
Sarah Whitlow concluded: “Antibiotic resistance is the biggest health problem humankind is facing but how poignant it would be if the fight against it really began in the country in which my grandfather was born and was so proud of.”
Visit our Patient Support pages to find out more.