Antibiotic resistance action plan gets under way before it's too late, says WHO

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Antibiotics. WHO/S. Volkov

Our growing resistance to antibiotics is a major public health risk and it's prompted the launch of a global "battle plan" to address the issue, UN doctors said Friday.

Announcing the launch of the programme World Health Organization specialists said that the problem now has much more of an impact in all parts of society than we might think.

WHO's Dr Charles Penn told journalists in Geneva that the problem could "affect any individual and in all parts of the world".

He cited mortality rates from antibiotic resistance of 25,000 people per year in the European Union and similar numbers in the United States.

"We've come to rely on antibiotics to treat a very wide range of infectious diseases but we've also come to rely on antibiotics in other aspects of medicine, in routine surgery, in accident and trauma, in such conditions as cancer treatment and even neonatal care; and we're increasingly seeing these antibiotics are no longer working and that's leading to increased rates of deaths from infections, it's leading to longer treatment, more expensive treatment and it puts at risk many of the advances of medicine over recent decades."

Dr Penn, who's WHO's co-ordinator of Antimicrobial resistance, said the initiative is happening now because people have started to realise that there's a lack of new medicines "in the pipeline".

The initiative is to involve each of the UN health agency's six global zones, he added.

The global consultation programme kicks off in Stockholm and the forum's recommendations will be presented to WHO general assembly next year.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1"36

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