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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid