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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora