World Health Org warns lack of stronger antibiotics is a ‘global health emergency’


Viruses that can resist antibiotics are on the rise and scientists are scrambling to defeat them.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report today confirming that the world is running out of antibiotics.

Viruses like gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and even more common infections like pneumonia and urinary tract infections, are becoming increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics. This happens with genetic changes in viruses, misuse or mistreatment of antibiotics and antibiotics that kill viruses, giving the super viruses more space to grow and spread.

Currently, many drugs have to be taken in tandem to be even a little effective, and some still aren’t getting the job done. For example, drug-resistant tuberculosis kills around 250,000 people each year.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, in a statement. “There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB, otherwise, we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery.”

Researchers are working on new antibiotics, but so far, few are good enough to add to the existing antibiotic treatment stockpiles. The report also says that few of these are oral antibiotics, which are better for wider access outside of hospital settings.

In order to deal with the costs of developing such wonder drugs, WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative set up a Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership where six countries, including Germany, the UK and South Africa contributed over $67 million for antibiotic expansion.

However, it is not on antibiotics alone — preventing the spread of infection of these diseases is now emore important than ever.