Antibiotic resistance is a global threat to human health. Hosam Zowawi is fighting back with science and a communications plan for the Gulf states.
Hosam Zowawi is face-to-face with a serial killer: in his laboratory in Brisbane, Australia, he is studying one of the most lethal microbes known to science, a strain of a typical hospital pathogen that is now virtually incurable. For the young Saudi Arabian scientist, the multi-drug resistant bacteria are the front line in a personal battle against one of the greatest threats to human health of the 21st century.
As in other nations around the world, in the countries of the Arabian Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain – resistant superbugs are multiplying due to over-prescription of antibiotics, the casual availability of antibiotics over the pharmacy counter, gaps in hand-hygiene compliance in hospitals, a burgeoning travel industry and low public understanding of the risks.
Zowawi aims to develop, perfect and commercialize the world’s fastest, broadest tests for antibiotic resistance, and to educate the public and health-care profession about the risks posed by resistance – and how to prevent it.
“A post-antibiotic era – in which common infections and minor injuries can kill – far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.”
World Health Organization, April 2014