The World Health Organization Releases Antibiotic Resistance Data

The World Health Organization Releases Antibiotic Resistance Data


The WHO released its report on worldwide antibiotic use and resistance earlier this week. The picture that emerges is that while some countries have a very high usage of antibiotics, there is a dire shortage of drugs in many others, leading to overuse and misuse, causing antibiotic resistance. The report is based on the first survey of its kind conducted by the organization, and some of the findings are alarming. Data was collected from 65 countries in 2015, using the DDD or the ‘defined daily doses’ as the basic measure. One of the most striking features the survey came across was the huge disparity in the defined daily dose. The DDD was as low as 4 in Burundi, for instance, whereas it as high as 64 in Mongolia.

The report states that the large disparity in use shows that in some countries, antibiotics are overused while in certain others, people do not have proper access to them. Overuse naturally leads to antibiotic resistance and with it, more and more strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to the commonly used antibiotics. If the trend continues like this, warns the organization, a time will come very soon when the world runs out of effective antibiotic remedies. Dr. Suzanne Hill of the WHO states that antimicrobial resistance is caused by overuse and misuse which will render us incapable of treating common infections like pneumonia. One way of solving the problem is to develop new antibiotics that can fight the resistant organisms, and the WHO has asked pharmaceutical companies to work in this direction.

Dr. Hill added that organisms develop resistance when antibiotics are prescribed to patients who do not need them, or when patients do not complete the prescribed course of treatment. The bacteria that is incompletely treated will able to resist the drug upon subsequent uses. Hence it is very important to enforce prescription-only policies and prevent the unnecessary use of drugs. Resistance to the drugs will also be developed in countries and regions where antibiotics are not sufficiently available or patients cannot afford to go for a full course of treatment. The next task of the Organization is to get a more comprehensive picture of the situation so that remedial measures can be taken at the earliest.

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