WHO Report: World Fails to Combat Misuse of Antibiotics

WHO Report: World Fails to Combat Misuse of AntibioticsWHO Report: World Fails to Combat Misuse of Antibiotics

The world is doing far too little to combat the misuse of antibiotics which is fuelling drug resistance and allowing long-treatable diseases to become killers, the World Health Organization says.

In its first analysis of how countries are responding to the problem of antimicrobial resistance -- when bugs become immune to existing drugs -- the UN health agency revealed “major gaps” in all six regions of the world, reports Reuters.

“This is the single greatest challenge in infectious diseases today,” Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director general for health security, said in a statement.

“All types of microbes, including many viruses and parasites, are becoming resistant to medicines,” he warned, voicing particular concern over “bacteria that are progressively less treatable by available antibiotics.”

A year ago, WHO issued a hard-hitting study on the phenomenon, cautioning that without significant action the world would be headed for “a post-antibiotic era,” where people will be dying from common infections and minor injuries.


The UN agency has since conducted a survey of 133 countries asking governments to assess their response to resistance to antimicrobial medicines used to treat conditions like pneumonia, tuberculosis, malaria and HIV.

While a lot of work is being done to address the problem, the report -- which breaks down the data on a regional basis and does not provide country-specific information -- warned that far more was needed. Only 34 of the 133 countries that took part in the survey had comprehensive national plans in place to fight resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines, the report said.

One major concern is that sales of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs without prescription remain widespread around the world.

Counterfeit and low-quality drugs have also been reported in many regions, a major headache since such medicines often do not contain the right amount of the active ingredient, “resulting in sub-optimal dosing.”


This was of particular concern in the African region, where it was a “general problem,” the report found, warning though that only eight of the 47 WHO member states in Africa had responded to the survey.

“Both overuse and misuse of antimicrobial medicines accelerates the emergence of resistant microorganisms,” it stressed. “This situation is alarming,” the report said, adding that many people continue to believe that antibiotics can be used to fight viral infections, which is not the case. Even in Europe, where public information campaigns are common, half the population believes viruses can be fought with antibiotics, it found.