The Jakarta Post
The World Health Organization (WHO) South-East Asia Region is calling on its member countries to immediately address indiscriminate use of antibiotics and other drugs because their uncontrolled use has led to resistance to medicines, persistence of infections and treatment failure.
'Immediate action is needed to stop the world from heading toward a pre-antibiotic era, in which all achievements made in the prevention and control of communicable diseases will be reversed,' WHO South-East Asia Region director Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in a statement on Wednesday.
'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,' she continued.
Khetrapal Singh said without effective antimicrobial medicines, several common infections, such as hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated pneumonias, urinary tract infections, diarrhoea, gonorrhoea, tuberculosis, malaria and many more, would become harder to treat.
'The problem is compounding, and unless we act now, the consequences might be irreversible,' she said, during the 68th meeting of the regional committee.
Indiscriminate use of antibiotics and other drugs has become a threat to public health.
A recent study of the potential human and economic cost of the problem estimates that leaving antimicrobial resistance unchecked will cause 10 million deaths per year globally and around a 2 to 3.5 percent lower global gross domestic product by 2050. Reduced productivity from persisting illness and its treatment cost will worsen the economic loss further.
Khetrapal Singh said comprehensive and integrated national action plans needed to be developed to respond to antimicrobial resistance.
Countries needed to strengthen monitoring of the extent and cause of antibiotic resistance, improve infection control in hospitals and regulate and promote the appropriate use of medicines, she said.
'Increase awareness needs to be created among the general public as well as health workers and pharmacists around taking or selling only prescribed medicines and completing their full course.' (ebf) (++++)