In the medical industry there is a concept foreign to western doctors in many regions. It’s called benign ignorance, and it’s what has kept super bugs out of Norway for many years. In the 1980’s, Norwegians were suffering catastrophic death rates from super bugs such as the Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (also known as MRSA) and other staph infections. These dangerous bugs are so prevalent that they occasionally make certain hospitals more dangerous than the diseases patients face. This technological breakthrough in policy is actually a step backward, but is saving lives.
Norway’s response has been a simple one, stop giving so many antibiotics. Even though many of the hospitals are not known to be the most pristine, often looking downright dangerously unsanitary with thick layers of dust, cracked walls, and sometimes ancient looking equipment. These hospitals do, however, have a significantly lower death rate due to staph infection than most western hospitals. The reason? For the past 25 years, they have not been administering antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary.
Doctors around the world have taken note of this medical miracle that somehow seems to defy explanation. Doctors are, however, prescribing a dose of open mindedness as the World Health Organization declares that dangerous super bugs that have mutated due to over prescription of antibiotics may be one of the greatest threats to mankind in the near future. Such diseases that cannot be destroyed by antibiotics may one day become so infectious that they will be able to wipe out thousands, if not more.
Earlier in the year the Associated Press held a six month long investigation. The purpose was to discover just how serious the effect was on patients due to overuse of antibiotics. On the micro scale the results were often negligible, but when moved to a much greater population, it was found that diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria were no longer curable or possible to treat using older treatments, due to the fact that the bacteria in the diseases had mutated to survive. Their findings were similar to those of the World Health Organization which blames the overuse of antibiotics for several terrifying diseases that have sprung up from out of nowhere in (of all places) hospitals.
When looking in the medicine locker of a typical Norwegian dispensary, what you’ll find is ointments, herbal remedies, even garlic. What you won’t find is the top of the line antibiotics used to fight off the deadliest diseases ever to face the Earth, yet also prescribed for simple tonsillectomies and knee scrapes. These drugs aren’t even registered in Norway, but those herbal supplements and ancient medicines are proving more and more effective as time goes on.
The most prescribed medicine for small diseases like colds and minor fevers; pain relievers and fever reducers available at the checkout counter of most grocery stores. What will the future hold for the medical industry? And why are countries such as Norway having such luck with such a simple practice? Perhaps we will discover the answer in the future.