Top medic’s dire warn­ing on overuse of an­tibi­otics

World lead­ers urged to act as drug-re­sis­tant in­fec­tions pose risk to mod­ern medicine

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - Ella pickover

Eng­land’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer has warned of a “post-an­tibi­otic apoc­a­lypse” as she is­sued a call to ac­tion urg­ing global lead­ers to ad­dress the grow­ing threat of an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance.

Pro­fes­sor Dame Sally Davies said that if an­tibi­otics lose their ef­fec­tive­ness it will spell “the end of mod­ern medicine”.

With­out the drugs used to fight in­fec­tions, com­mon med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions such as cae­sarean sec­tions, cancer treat­ments and hip re­place­ments would be­come in­cred­i­bly “risky”, she said.

And trans­plant medicine would be a “thing of the past”, she added.

“We re­ally are fac­ing, if we don’t take ac­tion now, a dread­ful post-an­tibi­otic apoc­a­lypse,” she told the Press As­so­ci­a­tion.

“I don’t want to say to my chil­dren that I didn’t do my best to pro­tect them and their chil­dren.”

Health ex­perts have pre­vi­ously warned that re­sis­tance to an­timi­cro­bial drugs could cause a big­ger mankind than cancer.

In re­cent years, the UK has led a drive to raise global aware­ness of the threat posed to mod­ern medicine by an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance (AMR).

Around 700,000 peo­ple around the world die an­nu­ally due to drug-re­sis­tant in­fec­tions in­clud­ing tu­ber­cu­lo­sis (TB), HIV and malaria.

If no ac­tion is taken, it has been es­ti­mated that drug-re­sis­tant in­fec­tions will kill 10 mil­lion peo­ple a year by 2050.

Dame Sally said that be­cause AMR is “hid­den”, peo­ple “just let it pass”.

The com­ments come as the UK Govern­ment and the Well­come Trust, along with oth­ers, have or­gan­ised a “call to ac­tion” meet­ing for health of­fi­cials from around the globe.

At the meet­ing in Ber­lin, the Govern­ment will also an­nounce a new project which will map the spread of death and dis­ease caused by drug-re­sis­tant “su­per­bugs”.

Dame Sally said: “This is a se­ri­ous is­sue that is with us now, caus­ing deaths. threat to

“It does not re­ally have a ‘face’ be­cause most peo­ple who die of drug-re­sis­tant in­fec­tions, their fam­i­lies just think they died of an un­con­trolled in­fec­tion.

“It will only get worse un­less we take strong ac­tion ev­ery­where across the globe. We need some real work on the ground to make a dif­fer­ence or we risk the end of mod­ern medicine.”

Dame Sally warned that if the global com­mu­nity did not act then progress made in Bri­tain may be “un­der­mined”.

She added: “We use more than I would like and we es­ti­mate that about one in three or one in four pre­scrip­tions in pri­mary care are prob­a­bly not needed.

“But other coun­tries use vastly more an­tibi­otics in the com­mu­nity and they need to start do­ing as we are, which is re­duc­ing us­age.”

The new project to map the spread of su­per­bugs is a col­lab­o­ra­tion between the UK Govern­ment, Well­come Trust, Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, Ox­ford Univer­sity and the In­sti­tute for Health Met­rics and Eval­u­a­tion.

Pic­ture: PA.

Pro­fes­sor Dame Sally Davies is warn­ing that the world faces a “post-an­tibi­otic apoc­a­lypse” un­less ur­gent ac­tion is taken to ad­dress the grow­ing threat of an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance.

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