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Friday, September 16, 2011

Europe fights back: WHO’s new action plan tackles antibiotic resistance

From WHO's Europe region, excerpt :

" Today, in Baku, Azerbaijan, at the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, 53 countries will discuss adopting a new European strategic action plan on antibiotic resistance. Developed by the WHO Regional Office for Europe following extensive consultation with experts and policy-makers and based on the latest research, the action plan builds on the momentum created by World Health Day 2011, with its slogan of “No action today, no cure tomorrow”.

“We know that now is the time to act. Antibiotic resistance is reaching unprecedented levels, and new antibiotics are not going to arrive quickly enough,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “Antibiotics are a precious discovery, but we take them for granted, overuse and misuse them: there are now superbugs that do not respond to any drug, and that is why the action plan has won so much support.”

Every year in the European Union it is estimated that over 25 000 people die of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, mostly acquired in hospitals. This is despite the major progress achieved and efforts made by the European Union, particularly in surveillance and awareness. In the wider WHO European Region, which encompasses 53 countries, the full number is not known as data are not always available, but the signs suggest that the situation is even worse. Doctors and scientists across the Region fear that with the reckless use of antibiotics, resulting in the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant infections, we could return to a pre-antibiotic era where simple infections do not respond to treatment, and routine operations and interventions become life-threatening.

About the action plan

The action plan highlights the real and urgent risks of lifesaving antibiotics losing their healing power, and stresses the need to reduce complacency, overuse and misuse. Such an effort calls on everyone, from the public to physicians to politicians, drug companies and veterinarians, to use antibiotics properly and responsibly.

The European strategic action plan on antibiotic resistance identifies seven key areas where action must be taken to ensure that Europeans are safe."

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