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WHO warns about antimicrobial resistance as a major global health threat

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 5 months ago

Antimicrobial resistance has been identified as a significant global public health and development threat by the World Health Organization (WHO). Antimicrobials, including medications such as antibiotics and antivirals, are used to treat and prevent infections in humans, animals, and plants by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. However, the misuse and overuse of these drugs in various sectors have led to the emergence of drug-resistant pathogens, resulting in higher medical costs, longer hospital stays, and an increased risk of death.

According to the WHO report, antimicrobial resistance caused approximately 1.3 million direct deaths in 2019 and indirectly contributed to an additional 4.5 million deaths. While low- and middle-income countries are more affected due to poverty and inequality, this issue affects all nations regardless of their income level or geographical location.

The economic implications of antimicrobial resistance are significant as well. The World Bank estimates that by 2050, it could lead to an additional $1 trillion in healthcare spending and result in gross domestic product losses of $1 trillion to $3.4 trillion by 2030. In the United States alone, the annual cost of treating infections caused by multidrug-resistant germs exceeds $4.6 billion.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 2.8 million people in the US are affected by antimicrobial-resistant infections each year, with around 35,000 deaths resulting from these infections. Multidrug-resistant germs develop when antibiotics are used for longer durations than necessary or when they are used unnecessarily, leading to bacteria that can no longer be treated with these drugs. This bacteria can spread through person-to-person contact or by touching infected surfaces.

Antimicrobial resistance not only makes it harder to treat existing illnesses but also increases the risk associated with medical procedures and prolongs hospital stays. The financial burden is substantial, costing the US $20 billion for healthcare annually and approximately $35 billion in terms of loss of productivity.

According to the CDC, at least 30% of antibiotics prescribed in outpatient care are unnecessary, and the total inappropriate use of antibiotics in outpatient settings may be as high as 50%. This highlights the need for responsible antibiotic use and the importance of combatting antimicrobial resistance.

In conclusion, antimicrobial resistance poses a significant threat to global health and development. Addressing this issue requires a collaborative effort from all sectors to promote responsible use of antimicrobials and develop innovative solutions to combat drug-resistant pathogens.

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