Article via The Telegraph
By: Rebecca Smith
Common infections and minor scratches could soon kill because antibiotics are becoming useless against new superbugs, World Health Organisation warns
A child’s scratched knee from falling off their bike, common bladder infections among the elderly in care homes and routine surgery to replace broken hips could all become fatal as antibiotics are becoming increasingly useless, the World Health Organisation has said.
The crisis is bigger and more urgent than the Aids epidemic of the 1980s, it was warned.
UK experts said the ‘era of safe medicine is coming to an end’ and government funds must be pumped into the production of new drugs.
Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security, said: “Without urgent, coordinated action 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.
“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.”
The report, Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance, focuses on antibiotic resistance in seven different bacteria responsible for common, serious diseases such as sepsis, diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea.
It found that antibiotic resistance is present in all areas of the globe and is growing.
Dr Danilo Lo Fo Wong, Senior Adviser Antimicrobial Resistance at WHO Europe, told the Telegraph: “A child falling off their bike and developing a fatal infection would be a freak occurrence in the UK but that is where we are heading.
“Antibiotic resistance travels with infectious diseases and infectious diseases travel around the world. Whatever good is being done in the UK and elsewhere it can be made redundant by a lack of action elsewhere in the world.”
The report comes after England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davis, said the issue ‘scared’ her and called for greater restriction of antibiotics and incentives for pharmaceutical companies to produce new medicines.
Professor Laura Piddock, Director of Antibiotic Action and Professor of Microbiology at University of Birmingham said: “The world needs to respond as it did to the AIDs crisis of the Eighties.
“To do this, we need to be ambitious to succeed – moves such as a fully funded mandatory global surveillance programme will document the size of the problem and funded public education will help minimise use – but these are just starting points. We still need a better understanding of all aspects of resistance as well as new discovery, research and development of new antibiotics.”
She said governments need to pump money into research to develop new drugs and added that UK funding on antibiotic research as dropped to less than one per cent of available research funds.
Dr Lo Fo Wong warned that antibiotic resistance was bigger than the 1980s Aids crisis because “everyone is potentially in danger”.
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