Health

Antibiotic resistance trends pose threat to hospital care, WHO head says

The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis, the head of the World Health Organization says.

World heading towards post-antibiotic era

The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis, the head of the World Health Organization says.

Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, spoke to the G7 Health Ministers meeting in Berlin on Thursday.

"The world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era in which common infections will once again kill." Chan tweeted.

Examples include:

  • Superbugs haunt hospitals and intensive care units around the world.
  • Only half of cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis can be successfully cured.
  • Gonorrhea is now resistant to multiple classes of drugs.
  • Multidrug-resistant typhoid fever found in parts of Asia and Africa.

"If current trends continue, sophisticated interventions, like organ transplantation, joint replacements, cancer chemotherapy, and care of pre-term infants, will become more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake," Chan said on WHO's website. 

Chan also described factors driving antimicrobial resistance, such as the lack of rapid and reliable tests for malaria, which means fragile antimalarial drugs are handed out to any child with fever and overprescribing in animal husbandry and agriculture.

She said consumers who question the safety of food produced from heavily-medicated animals and buy accordingly can have a profound impact on industry practices.

Earlier today at the meeting, German health minister Hermann Groehe said antibiotic resistance tops the agenda at the meeting. Only one in four countries have some strategies to deal with resistance, he said. 

With files from Reuters

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