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‘Invisible pandemic’: WHO offers global plan to fight superbugs

‘Invisible pandemic’: WHO offers global plan to fight superbugs

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global campaign on Tuesday to curb the spread of antibiotic resistant germs through safer and more effective use of the life-saving drugs.
The UN health agency said it had developed a classification system listing which antibiotics to use for the most common infections and which for the most serious ones, which drugs should be available at all times, and which should be used as a last resort only.
The aim is to prevent antibiotic resistance, which happens when bugs become immune to existing drugs, rendering minor injuries and common infections potentially deadly.
Such resistance can develop naturally, but overuse and misuse of the drugs dramatically speeds up the process.
“Antimicrobial resistance is an invisible pandemic,” WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines, Mariangela Simao, said in a statement.
“We are already starting to see signs of a post-antibiotic era, with the emergence of infections that are untreatable by all classes of antibiotics,” she said. Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives by defeating bacterial diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and meningitis. But over the decades, bacteria have learned to fight back, building resistance to the same drugs that once reliably vanquished them — turning into so-called “superbugs”.
The WHO campaign pointed to numbers from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimating that some 2.4 million people could die over the next 30 years in Europe, North America and Australia due to superbug infections.
According to a recent report by the International Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, more than 50 percent of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately.
This includes antibiotics, which work only against bacterial infections, prescribed to treat viruses.


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