Antibiotics being sifted by a pharmacist
An increasing number of antibiotic resistance cases poses a grave threat to public healthReuters

Antibiotic resistance is widespread in every region of the world, a new report by World Health Organisation (Who) has said.

The report, Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance, suggests that antibiotic resistance, which occurs when bacteria change and become immune to the medicine, is now a major threat to public health in more than 100 countries.

The study, published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), focused on antibiotic resistance in seven different bacteria responsible for common, serious diseases such as bloodstream infections, diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea.

Although it is not possible to assess the true extent of the phenomenon, the findings suggest that treatments with standard antibiotics often fail to work in Africa, Asia, North and South Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific regions and Europe.

"Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill," said Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Security.

While some countries have taken important steps in addressing the problem, the report reveals that key tools to tackle antibiotic resistance—such as basic systems to track and monitor the problem—are lacking or do not exist in many countries.

WHO warns that more has to be done to prevent infections from happening in the first place and government should regulate and promote appropriate use of medicines and foster innovation, research and development of new tools.

Health workers and pharmacists should enhance infection prevention and control and they should prescribe antibiotics only when is strictly necessary.

People can also help tackle the problem by using antibiotics only when prescribed by a doctor, completing the full prescription and never sharing antibiotics with others.

In conclusion, the report urges countries to act immediately to prevent devastating consequences.

"Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating," Dr. Fukuda said.