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WHO raises alarm over indiscriminate use of antibiotics

57Amid the indiscriminate use of antibiotics and other drugs leading to treatment failure, the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged member countries in South-East Asia Region, including Bangladesh, to urgently address this threat to public health, reports UNB.

“Immediate action is needed to stop the world from heading towards pre-antibiotic era in which all achievements made in prevention and control of communicable diseases will be reversed,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO South-East Asia Region, told a regional meeting in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, on Wednesday.

She said common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades may once again kill millions. “Resistance to antibiotics will make complex surgeries and management of several chronic illnesses like cancer, extremely difficult.”

The WHO regional director was addressing health ministers and senior health ministry officials from the 11 member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region, at the 68th meeting of the Regional Committee which meets annually to discuss health priorities and health agenda for the region.

Already, without effective antimicrobial medicines, a number of common infections such as hospital acquired ventilator associated pneumonias, urinary tract infections; diarrhoea, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, malaria etc. are becoming harder to treat. The problem is compounding, and unless we act now, the consequences might be irreversible, said Dr Khetrapal.

A recent forecast of the potential human and economic cost estimates 10 million deaths per year globally and 2 to 3.5 percent less global gross domestic product by 2050 if antimicrobial resistance goes unchecked. Reduced productivity from persisting illness, and its cost of treatment, add to the economic loss, said a WHO press release.

Dr Khetrapal said comprehensive and integrated national action plans are needed to respond to antimicrobial resistance. Countries need to strengthen monitoring of the extent and cause of antibiotic resistance, improve infection control in hospitals and regulate and promote appropriate use of medicines.

Increased awareness needs to be created among the general public as well as health workers and pharmacists on taking/selling only prescribed medicines and completing its full course.