Apoca­lyp­tic ad­vice must be heeded

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - COMMENT -

The dire warn­ing from health au­thor­i­ties about an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance may sound like the plot of a Michael Crich­ton thriller, or a Stephen King hor­ror story, but it is all too real.

World health lead­ers have come to­gether to re­in­force warn­ings about the over-use of an­tibi­otics.

Drug-re­sis­tant in­fec­tions such as HIV, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and malaria are al­ready claim­ing a deadly toll of hun­dreds of thou­sands of lives per year.

Unchecked, as many as 10 mil­lion a year could be killed by 2050.

Eng­land’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer, Pro­fes­sor Dame Sally Davies, has called it, suit­ably, a loom­ing “post-an­tibi­otic apoc­a­lypse”.

Since Alexan­der Flem­ing’s dis­cov­ery of peni­cillin the use of anti-mi­cro­bial drugs has rev­o­lu­tionised mod­ern medicine but the ill­nesses they treat are man­ag­ing to keep pace in their evo­lu­tion.

It seems the UK has wo­ken up to the fact it has be­come too easy to pre­scribe cour­ses of an­tibi­otics for ills which may not need them and medics have curbed their use.

Like so many other is­sues in the global vil­lage, it is a point­less ex­er­cise un­less oth­ers fol­low suit.

Moves to rein­vig­o­rate the ef­fi­cacy of new medicines are be­ing made in tan­dem with an aware­ness cam­paign around an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance.

Heed­ing the ad­vice could save many lives.

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