News / Health

Resistance to Antibiotics Spreading Worldwide

FILE - One form of CRE bacteria, sometimes called “nightmare bacteria.” CRE bacteria, blamed for 600 deaths each year, and can withstand treatment from virtually every type of antibiotic.
FILE - One form of CRE bacteria, sometimes called “nightmare bacteria.” CRE bacteria, blamed for 600 deaths each year, and can withstand treatment from virtually every type of antibiotic.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization warns (WHO) resistance to antibiotics is spreading to all regions around the world and is now a major threat to public health.   A new WHO report analyzes data from 114 countries.  It finds antibiotics are no longer effective in treating potentially life-threatening illnesses in a growing number of people.  

This report is the first and most comprehensive look at antimicrobial resistance.  It presents a frightening view of a world without effective antibiotics to treat common infections.  The World Health Organization says this serious threat is not a prediction for the future.  It is happening right now in every region of the world.

The report focuses on antibiotic resistance in seven different bacteria, which are responsible for common, serious diseases, such as diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhea.  

WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security, Keiji Fukuda, says hospitals in all regions of the world are reporting untreatable or nearly untreatable infections.  

“If we take a look at an important infection like gonorrhea, this is an infection which affects about one million people per day, an important sexually transmitted disease. We now see that 10 countries have reported finding gonorrhea, which is untreatable by any antibiotics.  We have no medical treatment for this infection in many of these instances," said Fukuda.

Among those countries are Austria, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom.  Untreated gonorrhea can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy and blindness in babies born to infected mothers.

The WHO report also notes that treatment of some urinary tract infections is now ineffective in more than half of patients.  It says antibiotic resistance causes people to be sick for longer periods and increases the risk of death.

Health officials cite the misuse and inappropriate use of drugs and the practice of adding antibiotics to agricultural feed to fatten animals as some of the factors leading to growing antibiotic resistance.

Dr. Fukuda says the health care system relies on these medicines to protect people when they are most vulnerable.

“It means that when people develop cancer and are on chemotherapy and become immuno-compromised, they are at much higher risk for complications and infections and severe ones.  When babies are born prematurely, they are in the same situation.  When we have children who are malnourished, they are at much higher risk for infection," he said.

He says similar devastating scenarios are playing out whenever people go in for surgery.  Dr. Fukuda warns more people are likely to die from these infections.  He notes resistance also increases the cost of health care, with lengthier stays in the hospital and more intensive care required.

He says effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing people to live longer, healthier lives.  He warns everyone will suffer from antibiotic resistance, especially those in poor, developing countries.  

The World Health Organization is using this report to kick-start a global effort to address drug resistance.  It says nations and people should view these findings as a wake-up call for a global plan of action to tackle this growing problem.   It says efforts must be intensified to educate people and increase awareness of the looming dangers. And it says tools and medications must be developed to replace those that are becoming ineffective.

Related report by Zlatica Hoke:
 
Report: Drug-Resistant Bacteria Pose Major Threat to Global Public Healthi
X
May 01, 2014 4:12 AM
Doctors have long warned against prolonged use of antibiotics, saying that bacteria can build resistance to drugs, eventually rendering them ineffective. The World Health Organization reported Wednesday that antibiotic-resistant bacteria now exist in many parts of the world. Zlatica Hoke reports that some diseases that once could easily be cured by antibiotics have now become deadly.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs