GENEVA: Antibiotic resistance, which can turn common ailments into killers, has reached dangerous levels worldwide, the World Health Organization warned Monday, saying users still know too little about how antibiotics work.
Antibiotic resistance happens when bugs become immune to existing drugs, allowing minor injuries and common infections to become deadly.
Overuse and misuse of the drugs increase this resistance, but WHO also published a survey of 10,000 people worldwide showing a range of dangerous misconceptions about the threat, which are allowing it to prosper.
“The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis, and governments now recognize it as one of the greatest challenges for public health today,” WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement, stressing that resistance was “reaching dangerously high levels in all parts of the world.”
“Antibiotic resistance is compromising our ability to treat infectious diseases and undermining many advances in medicine,” she warned.
WHO’s 12-country survey published Monday found that nearly two thirds of all those questioned (64 percent) believe wrongly that antibiotics can be used to treat colds and flu, despite the fact that the drugs have no impact on viruses.
The survey, conducted in Barbados, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam, also showed that 66 percent believe that there is no risk of antibiotic resistance for people who take their antibiotics as prescribed.