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  • Antibiotic resistance set to worsen

    Author: AAP

Resistance to antibiotics caused by over-reliance on will get worse and the problem needs to be dealt with now, warns Britain's chief medical officer.

The problem of resistance to antibiotics caused by an over-reliance on them in recent decades is only going to get worse, the British government's chief medical officer warned.

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Professor Dame Sally Davies said the issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) needs to be raised into the political arena so leaders realise that if they don't act they will be "embarrassed by our children".

Prof Davies was among a cohort of global health leaders at a summit in London discussing how the world can tackle such resistance, both in animals and humans.

While Britain is among those spearheading the campaign, Prof Davies said it was not about "telling the rest of the world to catch up".


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She warned Britain leaving the EU would make it harder to have a "meaningful voice" on the problem, but said: "This isn't a European issue. Europe leads the way on some of its policies. It's important that we work at this with all the international organisations to deliver real change and therefore a better opportunity for health."

Chief veterinary officer Professor Nigel Gibbens also sounded a warning, saying: "Antimicrobial resistance is a major threat and we need to reduce every possible avenue of driving new bugs with resistance patterns."

He said improving animal production systems in Europe is vital to reducing antibiotic use and the rest of the world needed to become more regulated.

Experts will call for global action on AMR at a UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September.

But Prof Davies said before then it was vital to recognise the development aspects of AMR.

"More people at the moment die of lack of access to antibiotics than of drug-resistant infections - AMR - so how do we take them with us to change their farm practises, to change their practises in hospitals?

Prof Davies said work needed to be done in the UK in general practice to help reduce levels of over-prescription of antibiotics, and also in hospitals to ensure patients receive the right antibiotics or that treatments are stopped if they are not needed.

In terms of farming and animal antibiotics, Prof Davies said the use of antibiotics to promote animal growth, a practice not carried out in the UK, needs to stop, along with giving antibiotics to healthy animals as a preventative measure - which she said was "overused" in in Britain.

Prof Davies warned that "naming and shaming" of countries and organisations could be the only way to force change if diplomacy does not work first.

"We have to make sure people recognise the problem is here now, it's already with us. It's not tomorrow's problem, it's just going to get worse."


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