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Antibiotic Resistance: the Silent Tsunami

Uppsala University via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.



The introduction of the first antibiotic in the 1940s marks a true turning point in human history. For the first time, once deadly infectious diseases, such as pneumonia and bloodstream infections, became manageable health problems and new horizons for modern medicine were defined. The marketing of other antibiotics soon followed, and as a result of their initial success, bacterial infections were considered to be permanently defeated.

Explore the rise of antibiotic resistance

However, misuse of antibiotics worldwide has eroded their efficacy and antibiotic-resistant bacteria rapidly emerge and spread across the globe. At the same time, the pipeline of new antibiotics is now almost dry.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that we have arrived at a point where the pandemic of antibiotic resistance has become a global health crisis. It is a silent tsunami that, without a sound, roars over the world and crumbles down the pillars upon which modern medicine is built. More than anything, this situation requires immediate action and we all need to share the responsibility for preserving antibiotics for current and future generations.

Understand antibiotic resistance and how to take action

This free online course introduces the concepts of antibiotic resistance and what actions are needed to meet this global health threat.

Over the four weeks, you will learn about the mechanisms behind the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, gain insight into the current situation, and take part of real-life stories told by patients, doctors, and other experts.

This knowledge will help you to understand what challenges we are facing, but also what preventative actions and other control mechanisms we can implement to limit the impact of antibiotic resistance on our society.

Examine the development and use of antibiotics worldwide

As we progress through the weeks, we will also discuss the modest development of new antibiotics, as well as the urgent need for innovation in the field. Finally, we will bring up the dilemma of how to simultaneously address the access to and the excessive use of antibiotics in low- and middle-income countries.

This course will give you the tools to understand how antibiotic resistance unfolds, and how it can best be managed, controlled and prevented at both the societal and individual level.

This course is suitable for members of the public, students, health professionals or any other experts who want to gain a broader understanding of antibiotic resistance. A glossary will be provided to help those who are new to the subject understand scientific words and concepts.

Taught by

Thomas Tängdén and Saga Alvring


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