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The Global Fight to Beat Superbugs


The Global Fight to Beat Superbugs

Incredibly, all 193 countries that make up the United Nations (UN) have made a landmark global pledge to wipe out drug-resistant infections.
Given the alarming rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs in recent years, this is a welcomed and urgent declaration.
It’s taken six years to get to this point. But the UN says around 700,000 deaths each year could be prevented if the pledge is actioned.

What are superbugs?

Superbugs are what we call microorganisms that develop ‘antimicrobial resistance’. That means even if you take a course of antibiotics to fight an infection, it might not go away. The bugs simply can’t be beat.
Worse, because the microorganisms stay in your body, they can go on to infect others. And that’s how they have spread so rapidly throughout the world.
As the World Health Organisation (WHO ) explains, “New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.
“Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very high risk.”
That also means higher health care costs and longer hospital stays requiring greater and more involved care. And that’s something that not everyone, or every country, can afford.

Why we need to wipe out superbugs

According to a BBC article, antibiotic-resistant bugs “pose one of the biggest known threats to humanity today”, for the reasons listed above.
If we don’t take immediate action, those infections could be simply untreatable. And the more microorganisms that we can’t combat, the more they mutate and become even stronger.

What commitment has been made?

So specifically, what has the UN pledged?
  • Create surveillance and regulation on how antibiotics are used and sold
  • Promote new ways to make new antibiotics, and improve the speed of diagnoses
  • Educate health professionals and the public on how to avoid and treat superbugs
But with Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, saying “we are running out of time”, here’s hoping the action plan is put into place immediately.

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