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Very Few Nations Are Protecting Antibiotics


Only one quarter of countries have an action plan to address antibiotic resistance. This according to a new survey by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The headline from the WHO report is that around the world the sale of antibiotics over-the-counter is “widespread.” Furthermore, it is very rare that nations track resistance to the drugs or put in place measures to slowdown their over-use.

With the report, WHO surveyed 133 national governments to assess their plans for the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. Of these, only thirty-four reported that they had a detailed national plan in place. This number included four of 26 responding countries in the Western Pacific, five of 11 countries in southeast Asia, 40 percent of European respondents. Interestingly, none in the eastern Mediterranean region nations and only three of 26 countries in the Americas had any measures. In Africa, the data were incomplete, but responses from eight countries indicated a growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

This worrisome state led Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health security, to write in a press release: “Scientists, medical practitioners and other authorities including WHO have been sounding the warning of the potentially catastrophic impact of ignoring antibiotic resistance. Today, we welcome what has been achieved so far, but much more needs to be done to avoid losing the ability to practice medicine and treat both common and serious illnesses.”

Commenting on the report, Wellcome Trust’s Mike Turner told the BBC News: “In most areas of the world we have no idea which drugs are being sold to whom and for what purpose. This is an appalling state of affairs…We cannot hope to stop bacteria becoming resistant to drugs unless we have simple, basic information in place.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.

  • Alexander Baron

    This has been a massive problem for a long time. I don’t see why all countries can’t make them prescription only like the UK, it isn’t as if anyone takes them for fun.