Geneva | The global phenomenon of anti-microbial resistance, just as dangerous as a pandemic, threatens to undo a century of medical progress, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites resist the effects of drugs, including antibiotics, making common infections more difficult to treat and increasing the risk of spreading diseases, severe forms of the disease. infections and death.
On the occasion of Global Antimicrobial Use Week (November 18-24), WHO, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organization of animal health (OIE), launched Friday a high-level group “in charge of combating the crisis which is accelerating of resistance to drugs”.
Its two co-chairs are the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, and her counterpart from Barbados, Mia Mottley.
This group will bring together heads of state, ministers and leaders of businesses and civil society organizations.
“Antimicrobial resistance may not seem as urgent as a pandemic, but it is just as dangerous,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference.
Antimicrobial resistance is “one of the greatest health threats of our time” which “threatens to undo a century of medical progress and leave us defenseless against infections which today can be easily treated” , he warned.
700,000 deaths per year
About 700,000 people die each year from this resistance, and “without strong action to ensure the appropriate use of existing antibiotics, as well as new and better treatments, this figure could rise to ten million by 2050”, according to the International Federation of the Medicines Industry (IFPMA).
“Anti-microbial resistance is an impending global crisis that could eclipse COVID-19 in terms of deaths and economic costs,” warned IFMPA Director General Thomas Cueni, welcoming the creation of the task force.
Antimicrobials are essential weapons in the fight against disease in humans, animals and plants. They include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics.
Multiple factors – including the overuse of drugs in humans, livestock and agriculture, as well as lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene – have led to magnified the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance worldwide, says WHO.
“While antibiotics are key, antimicrobial resistance also includes resistance to drugs against HIV, malaria, neglected tropical diseases, and others,” Tedros said.
He also lamented that while nearly 90% of countries have national action plans to tackle antimicrobial resistance, only 20% have found funds to implement them.
To counter this anti-microbial resistance, the WHO has called in recent years for the development of new antibiotics, but this process is complicated and expensive.