Resistance to antibiotics could become major global threat

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A new report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that resistance to antibiotics has become a major global public health threat.

After analysing data received from 114 countries, the organisation stated that resistance was being experienced in every part of the world.

This may move us into a world where people could die from simple infections which so far have been treatable. The organisation added that the world could face devastating implications, unless action is taken urgently.

The report placed focus on seven types of bacterial responsible for common diseases, such as blood infections, diarrhoea and pneumonia.

It found that two main antibiotics no longer work in more than half of the people being treated in some countries.

One of these is carbapenem, which is a ‘last-resort’ drug used in the treatment of life-threatening infections caused by the bacteria known as K.pneumoniae, such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia and newborn infections.

Bacteria naturally start to change and eventually become immune to antibiotics. However, the misuse of these forms of drugs, such as patients not completing the course and over-prescription by doctors, means that the problem is occurring much faster than was initially expected.

The WHO says that there is a need for the development of new antibiotics and that individuals and government should take steps to aid in slowing down the resistance process.

The report stated that resistance to E.coli urinary tract infection antibiotics has increased from almost zero during the 1980s to becoming ineffective in more than half of the treated cases today.

The Assistant Director-General at the WHO, Dr Keiji Fukuda, said that if the stakeholders do not take urgent action, the world will face a post-antibiotic era, where minor injuries and common infection which have been treatable for decades will once again kill people.

He stated that effective antibiotics had been able to help people live healthier, longer lives. Unless significant action is taken to improve methods to prevent infections and changes take place in how antibiotics are used and prescribed, the implications will be devastating throughout the world.

The report found that a last-resort treatment for gonorrhoea, which is able to cause infertility, had failed in the UK. Other countries that experienced the same problem include Sweden, Slovenia, South Africa, Norway, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Austria.

The report has called for access to clean water, vaccinations, healthcare facility infection control and better hygiene to try and reduce the requirement for antibiotics.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, last year stated that the increase in drug-resistant infections could be compared to the global warming threat.

Image Credit: Le Mai

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