Only 34 countries have national plans to fight antibiotic resistance, which means very few are prepared to tackle an outbreak of a “superbug” infection, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The 34 nations that indicated they were addressing the problem represent a quarter of the 133 countries that responded to a recent WHO survey. Among the countries that responded were Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
“This is the single greatest challenge in infectious diseases today,” said Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security. “All types of microbes, including many viruses and parasites, are becoming resistant.”
Superbug infections — including multi-drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis — already kill hundreds of thousands of people a year, and the trend is growing, notes a Reuters article.
But few countries have plans to preserve antibiotics, according to WHO. Those that do are largely in wealthier regions such as Europe and North America, where health systems are better organized and funded and scientific capabilities are more advanced, the story continues.
Among the contributors to drug-resistance are poor laboratory capacity, infrastructure and data management in many countries, making it difficult to note patterns of resistance and identify disease trends and outbreaks; and the growth of sales of non-prescription over-the-counter antimicrobial drugs, increasing the risk “for overuse and abuse by the public and by unscrupulous doctors,” according to WHO.