Antibiotic Resistance

Key facts:

*Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.

*Antibiotic resistance can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.

*Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.

*A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and salmonellosis – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.

*Antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality.

Introduction

Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines.

Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant. These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.

The world urgently needs to change the way it prescribes and uses antibiotics. Even if new medicines are developed, without behavior change, antibiotic resistance will remain a major threat. Behavior changes must also include actions to reduce the spread of infections through vaccination, hand washing, practicing safer sex, and good food hygiene.

Scope of the problem

Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases. A growing list of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhea, and food borne diseases – are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective.

Where antibiotics can be bought for human or animal use without a prescription, the emergence and spread of resistance is made worse. Similarly, in countries without standard treatment guidelines, antibiotics are often over-prescribed by health workers and veterinarians and over-used by the public.

Without urgent action, we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill.

Prevention and control

Antibiotic resistance is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, as well as poor infection prevention and control. Steps can be taken at all levels of society to reduce the impact and limit the spread of resistance.

Individuals

To prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance, individuals can:

*Only use antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional.

*Never demand antibiotics if your health worker says you don’t need them.

*Always follow your health worker’s advice when using antibiotics.

*Never share or use leftover antibiotics.

*Prevent infections by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding close contact with sick people, practicing safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date.

*Prepare food hygienically, following the WHO Five Keys to Safer Food (keep clean, separate raw and cooked, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures, use safe water and raw materials) and choose foods that have been produced without the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or disease prevention in healthy animals.

To read this article in it's entirety, please visit the World Health Organization(WHO), website using the link below.