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World failing in fight against antibiotic resistance

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The world of science made great strides in medicine and won the battle against many deadly diseases with the invention of antibiotics. But, seems like all we have earned all these years is going to get wasted because of the rise in antibiotic resistance. Countries around the globe are doing too little on their part to fight the misuse of antibiotics, which is a major factor in fueling drug resistance. If the same continues long treatable diseases will become deadly and untreatable said the World Health Organisation.


The UN healthy agency did its first ever analysis on how the world is responding to the problem of antimicrobial resistance and they have revealed that there are ˜major gaps' in all six regions of the world.


Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director general for health security, said in a statement that this is the single greatest challenge in infectious diseases today. Almost all the types of microbes including virus, parasites, etc., are becoming resistant to medicines. He expressed his particular concern over bacteria which are becoming progressively less treatable by the available antibiotics. He added that this is happening in all parts of the world and that all countries must do their bit to tackle this humongous global threat.


About a year ago, the World Health Organization has published a compelling study on the phenomenon which cautioned that if significant action was not taken in due time, the world would be headed for “a post-antibiotic era”. Such an era would be devastating for mankind because in that era common infections and minor injuries that have been treatable for decades may once again kill said Charles Penn, WHO coordinator on antimicrobial resistance.


He warned that we would lose the benefits of the advancement in medical science. It would not be possible to treat a range of serious conditions such as blood stream infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV with known treatments and medicines. The benefits of advanced medical treatment, such as cancer chemotherapy and major surgery will also become much riskier and may well be lost.


A survey of 133 countries asking government to assess their response to resistance to antimicrobial medicines was conducted by the UN agency. 60 WHO members including the United States and China did not take part in the survey. The UN report of the survey which breaks down the data on a regional basis and does not provide country-specific information reveals that the situation is dangerous and the global response is conspicuously lacking. Only about a quarter of countries that responded to the survey had comprehensive national plans in place to fight resistance to antibiotics. Also, only eight of the 47 WHO member states in Africa had responded to the survey.


One of the major concerns brought to light by this survey is the sales of such drugs without prescription which remains widespread around the world. Counterfeit and low-quality drugs have also been reported in many regions. Many countries also lack standard treatment guidelines, raising the possibility of overuse of the drugs. Both overuse and misuses of antimicrobial medicines speed the emergence of resistant microorganisms. The lack of knowledge among people is especially worrying since public awareness about the dangers of misusing antibiotics remains low in all regions. Many people even in the developed European countries continue to believe antibiotics can be used to fight viral infections, which is not the case.


It was also noted that monitoring of the use of such drugs was also “infrequent” in most regions, except for European countries where a lot of progress has been made in this area. A draft of the Global Action Plan has been created by WHO for addressing antimicrobial resistance. It is likely that all member states will be asked to approve it at its annual meeting in Geneva in coming month.