Global Alarm Increases over Antibiotic Resistance to Superbugs




ntibiotics are failing. World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan, M.D., said in a September address to the United Nations, “Antimicrobial resistance is a global crisis — a slow-motion tsunami. The situation is bad and getting worse. The misuse of antimicrobials, including their underuse and overuse, is causing these fragile medicines to fail. The emergence of bacterial resistance is outpacing the world’s capacity for antibiotic discovery.”


During the past two decades, WiRED’s medical writers have been careful to outline the correct use of antibiotics in the treatment of infectious diseases. In writing the Health Learning Center modules, they stress that patients must follow their doctors' instructions carefully, especially their advice to complete the course of their prescriptions and not share pills with others. WiRED’s writers have also warned against the overuse of antibiotics, for instance, using them for viral infections, for which they are useless.


Beyond promoting the correct use of antibiotics, WiRED's staff and board of directors strongly support the recent decision of the U.S. government's Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of some antibiotics in soaps. WiRED also urges a serious examination of the widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed. The result, along with other overuses of antibiotics, is the evolution of a dangerous class of bacteria that cannot be treated. Already, tens of thousands of people die each year, in the United States and elsewhere, from infections which cannot be controlled.


Dr. Chan said, “Common and life-threatening infections like pneumonia, gonorrhea and post-operative infections, as well as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria are increasingly becoming untreatable. [If current trends continue] … doctors facing patients will have to say, ‘Sorry, there is nothing I can do for you.’”


WiRED International intends to monitor the disturbing trend of antibiotic resistance in its Web stories and to reflect correct antibiotic usage in its Health Learning Center modules.



Health Agencies Rush to Combat Antibiotic Resistance


In September the United Nations called a high-level meeting to resolve to act against antibiotic resistance, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “a fundamental, long-term threat to human health, sustainable food production and development.” The meeting sought to reach agreement on sustainable approaches to addressing the issue.


In fiscal year 2016 the U.S. Congress appropriated $160 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and proposed another $40 million for fiscal year 2017 to fight antibiotic resistance and to provide the highest levels of support for the ambitious public health actions outlined in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.


As a result, the CDC launched an Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative, which will allow state and local public health, academic, healthcare, and veterinary partners to expand their capacity to detect and respond to antibiotic resistance threats in healthcare and in communities, to protect patients, and to save lives.


The CDC continues to report on antibiotic use in the U.S. In a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, CDC experts revealed that new data show that antibiotic use in U.S. hospitals is still too high.



^ Back to the Top