Alarm over drug resistance prompts WHO global action plan

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More countries need plans to preserve anti-microbial medicines such as antibiotics, says WHO. Photo: WHO/S. Volkov

Many common and treatable illnesses could become lethal unless action is taken against resistance to antibiotics, the UN said Wednesday.

The warning follows the publication of a new report by World Health Organization (WHO) showing for the first time that only one in four countries has plans to tackle the growing problem.

It's devised a strategy to turn the situation around which governments will vote on at the organisation's World Health Assembly in May.

Daniel Johnson has more.

Raising the real possibility of a world where antibiotics no longer work, the World Health Organization report shows that only 34 countries out of 133 have measures in place to do anything about the problem.

Armed with these findings, report author Dr Charles Penn said that WHO has come up with a global action plan to turn the situation around.

It involves reducing the over-prescription of antibiotics, better diagnosis methods and better communication about what antibiotics should be used for.

"Without urgent action the world is heading for what is being termed a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries that have been treatable for decades will once again kill."

The WHO expert said that bacteria and other harmful organisms naturally develop a resistance to medicines.

But it's made worse by over-use of antibiotics and other anti-microbial drugs.

And too many people still believe – wrongly – that antibiotics should be taken to treat viruses, Dr Penn said.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1’04″

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