WHO, China call for actions to combat antimicrobial resistance

08:48, April 08, 2011      

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The World Health Organization (WHO) and China's Health Ministry on Thursday called for concerted actions to combat improper and excessive use of antibiotics to reduce drug resistance.

The spread of antimicrobial resistance is an important public health threat that the WHO and China are working together to address, said WHO China representative Dr. Michael O'Leary at a forum held to discuss strategies to confront the problem.

"Infections caused by resistant microorganisms often fail to respond to conventional treatment, resulting in prolonged illness and greater risk of death," he said.

"We are now on the brink of losing this precious arsenal of medicines. The speed with which these drugs are being lost far outpaces the development of replacement drugs," he said.

He proposed building partnerships with different sectors of society, such as health workers, pharmacists, patients and industry, and strengthening surveillance and laboratory capacity.

He also called for efforts to improve drug regulatory and supply systems, to regulate and promote rational use of essential medicines, to enhance infection prevention and control and to foster innovation, research and development for new antimicrobials, diagnostics and vaccines.

"By taking action now, we can turn this situation around," he said.

Vice Health Minister Ma Xiaowei said at the forum that China's Health Ministry would take measures to enhance management of the use of antimicrobial drugs.

The ministry would also send experts to conduct inspections nationwide in hospitals and develop relevant regulations to push for scientific and rational use of antibiotics.

According to the WHO, antimicrobial agents are considered "miracle drugs" that are the world's leading weapons in the treatment of infectious diseases. Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of certain microorganisms to withstand attack by antimicrobials. The uncontrolled rise in resistant pathogens threatens lives and wastes limited healthcare resources.

Globally, about 440,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis emerge annually, causing at least 150,000 deaths, WHO figures show.

Source: Xinhua
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