Antibiotic resistance serious global threat to public health: WHO

Zee Media Bureau

Geneva: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned in its new report that resistance to antibiotics poses a serious global threat to public health.

WHO's new report (its first to globally look at antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance) reveals that this grave threat is no longer a prediction for the future but is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country.

It depicted “post-antibiotic era”, where people die from simple infections that have been treatable for decades.

“Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill,” says Keiji Fukuda, WHO's assistant director-general for health security.

“Effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing us to live longer, live healthier, and benefit from modern medicine. Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating,” he added.

The report focuses on seven different bacteria responsible for common, serious diseases such as bloodstream infections (sepsis), diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea.

The results are worrisome as the so-called "last-resort" antibiotics no longer work in more than half of people being treated in countries.

While bacteria naturally mutate to eventually become immune to antibiotics, the misuse of these drugs - such as doctors over-prescribing them and patients failing to finish courses has worsened the crisis.

Urging public to take simple precautions such as washing hands to prevent bacteria from spreading in the first place, WHO's report called for better access to clean water, infection control in healthcare facilities, and vaccination - to reduce the need for antibiotics.

WHO is also calling attention to the need to develop new diagnostics, antibiotics and other tools to allow healthcare professionals to stay ahead of emerging resistance.

This report is kick-starting a global effort led by WHO to address drug resistance.

This will involve the development of tools and standards and improved collaboration around the world to track drug resistance, measure its health and economic impacts, and design targeted solutions.

Antibiotics are medicines that either kill or inhibit the growth of a bacteria, but they cannot cure everything. Different types of antibiotics are there and each works a little differently, acting on different types of bacteria.

With Agency Inputs

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