Wednesday 20 February 2019

'A simple graze could be deadly' - why antibiotic resistance is a global health emergency

The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to
global health, food security and development. Stock picture
The World Health Organisation warns antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development. Stock picture

Jane Kirby

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is such a threat that "we are on the cusp of a world where a simple graze could be deadly".

It is as big a threat to humanity as climate change - and immediate action is needed to cut the inappropriate use of antibiotics, the World Economic Forum in Davos will be told today.

The British Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock will say resistance needs to be treated as a global health emergency.

He is expected to unveil a target to cut the number of resistant infections and to reduce the use of antibiotics in humans even further.

He will say: "Imagine a world without antibiotics. Where treatable infections become untreatable, where routine surgery like a hip operation becomes too risky to carry out, and where every wound is potentially life-threatening.

"What would go through your mind if your child cut their finger and you knew there was no antibiotic left that could treat an infection?

"This was the human condition until almost a century ago. I don't want it to be the future for my children - yet it may be unless we act.

"As health secretary responsible for one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, I could not look my children in the eyes unless I knew I was doing all in my power to solve this great threat. When we have time to act. But the urgency is now.

"Each and every one of us benefits from antibiotics, but we all too easily take them for granted, and I shudder at the thought of a world in which their power is diminished.

"Antimicrobial resistance is as big a danger to humanity as climate change or warfare. That's why we need an urgent global response."

In Ireland, the National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance was published in September 2017.

People are warned not to take antibiotics for colds and flu, because they have no impact. If you are prescribed antibiotics, finish the full course even if you are feeling better, and do not save them or share them with others.

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