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Antimicrobial resistance:a major challenge to health worldwide

November, 2019

The World Health Organization recognises antimicrobial resistance as a top ten threat to global health 1

Background

There are multiple challenges that currently present a threat to global health, ranging from outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and increasing antimicrobial resistance among important pathogens to growing rates on non-communicable diseases and increasing impacts of environmental pollution.

The threat of antimicrobial resistance

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Although the development of antimicrobial drugs is one of modern medicine’s greatest successes, the rise of antimicrobial resistance is now a major threat to global health.

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With existing antimicrobials, time is running out to be able to effectively treat some infections, threatening a return to a time when infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea and salmonellosis could not be easily treated.

  • For example, in 2017 around 600,000 cases of tuberculosis were resistant to first-line rifampicin and 82% of these cases were multi-drug resistant.
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An inability to prevent infection may also seriously compromise surgery and other interventions such as chemotherapy.

Action against antimicrobial resistance

  • Overuse of antimicrobials – not only in people but also in animals and in the environment (especially for food production) – drives drug resistance.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is working to implement a global action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance by increasing awareness and knowledge, reducing infection and promoting antimicrobial stewardship.

Visit the WHO’s Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance for more information

Reference:

  1. World Health Organization. Ten threats to global health in 2019. 
    Available from: https://www.who.int/emergencies/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019. (Accessed:July 2019).

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