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growing resistance against antibiotics - threat to global health

In 1945, Professor Alexander Fleming and co- workers got the Nobel Prize in medicine for the remarkable discovery of penicillin, the first antibiotic. Since then it has been possible to treat and cure almost all bacterial diseases, which had killed so many people so far. All of a sudden the medical profession found that there would not be any more epidemics. 
 
The possibility of survival for instance for mothers who had been infected during childbirth with the dreaded streptococci increased 100% and of course that applied for their infants too.  During the rest of the 20th century we have been used to trust antibiotics to cure bacterial diseases of all kinds. Lots of new and more refined types have been developed. People have lost their dread for these diseases as they have been sure that their doctor can prescribe a cure. In some countries you don’t even need a prescription, but can buy your antibiotic straight from the local pharmacy. Which of course means that no proper diagnosis will be made and the medicine can be taken in vain. 
 
Today, alas, we have to face a new scene – namely a growing resistance to existing antibiotics. This is due to many facts: I quote Dr Marc Springer, Director of WHO’s secretariat for antimicrobial resistance:         

First- this may be according to biology. Bacteria have an inborn possibility to mutate and get a defence against the drug, which is used. 

Second-antibiotics are used and misused far too much today. By farmers to prevent healthy animals getting infected. By doctors who prescribe them too easily against all kinds of infections, also viral diseases where antibiotics do no good. 

Third – very few new drugs are invented today. It is so complicated and costs so much to create a new antibiotic, which could help against the resistant bacteria, that no pharmaceutical company dares to try. It would also take a very long time before a new drug could be released and used. 
 
So how can we cope with this new reality? 
 
The World Health Organization has just published a document about a new strategy and advice: The experts of the organization have grouped antibiotics into three categories: ACCESS, WATCH and RESERVE. The change aims to ensure that antibiotics will be available when needed and that the right antibiotic will be prescribed for the right infection. As the name ACCESS suggests, these drugs will still be used against infections as pneumonia, tonsillitis, urinary tract infections. The antibiotics in the other two groups must be spared for more severe infections. Those in the group RESERVE may be the last-resort options, where all other possibilities have failed. 
 
This approach will require quite a lot of discipline from both doctors and the public. It may prove rather difficult especially in the developing countries, where there are few possibilities  of making a proper diagnosis (by laboratory specimens) and where people often can buy antibiotics without a prescription from the local pharmacy, if they have got enough money. 

But these restrictions are our last chance to save the world from the Global Threat of resistance against Antibiotics. Without antibiotics the medical profession will have lost one of its most important and effective tools. 

Stockholm 8/6 2017