The real superbugs


Recently the British media outlet Telegraph published a report on ‘antimicrobial resistant superbugs that are responsible for up to 80 per cent of deaths in Bangladesh’s intensive care units.’ Quoting the head of the department of pharmacology at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medial University (BSMMU), the British media says ‘Out of approximately 900 patients admitted to the unit in 2018, 400 died.’

The superbugs killed more than one critical patient each day in the ICUs in the past year. The news shook the nation. Naturally, the authorities concerned became worried and immediately rushed to ensure compulsory prescriptions for antibiotics. Of course, it is a matter of grave concern. This is basically a medical failure that can be remedied following an upgraded version of the vaccination or medication in future. There is at least a hope of recovery from the unstoppable microbial attack.

But, what about the superbugs, which are enrooted in our social domain and killing us every day faster than the microorganisms in the intensive care units? The real superbugs are the rapists, the unruly drivers, the unprofessional doctors. The real superbugs are those who spread hate, those who incite violence and terror and those who pollute rivers and grab water bodies. The social superbugs are more lethal and have already become monsters.

A rapist is a deadly superbug. The statistics say so. In 365 days of the past year, according to the Ain O Salish Kendra, the number of rapes and gang rapes was 732. It means at least two women were raped every day. The first two months of this new year were more terrible. At least 128 women were raped. Of them, 12 died after rape. Isn’t a rapist deadlier than a medical superbug?

A superbug kills a person crumbling the patient’s antibiotic resistance. Likewise, a rapist destroys values, norms, tightknit relationships and trust, on which a society stands.

The real superbug is an unskilled, unprofessional and unruly driver, who can kill a hundred of people in the blink of an eye. Just 2018’s statistics show 7,221 people were killed and 15,466 others injured in 5,514 road accidents across the country. Nearly 20 people were murdered each day in the year. This is eighteen times deadlier than the pathological superbugs.

A hatemonger is more dangerous. They ruin generation after generation, instilling hatred inside them and creating a sharp divide.

The deadliest superbugs are those who spread terror. Terror breaks apart the confidence of a nation to grow in diversity and harmony. Most recently, more than 250 people were killed in a matter of hours in eight terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. In 2017, as per the Forbes, 18,814 were killed by terrorists. The reign of terror has already posed a huge threat to global harmony and diversity.

The real superbugs are those who pollute and grab rivers, lakes and wetlands and shake the foundation of a healthy and wealthy nation. The venomous touch of the polluters and encroachers has already taken huge toll on the country. They have made a city least livable and thrown a country on the brink of ecological extinction. Once famous for its natural courses, the Dhaka city is consistently securing its place on top of the list of the worst city in the world. The superbugs have turned the waterways uninhabitable for aquatic animals and unusable for its habitats. Since independence, we have gobbled up more than three-fourths of the navigable waterways.

If an unskilled driver can kill a hundred of people in the blink of an eye, a rapist can kill an entire society, a terrorist an entire nation and the polluters and encroachers can wipe out a civilisation.
Toriqul Islam is a journalist at Prothom Alo. He can be reached through [email protected].