World Health Day 2011: Combating drug resistance and its global spread
WHO’s call to combat drug resistance
7 April 2011 — Antimicrobial resistance is not a new problem but one that is becoming more dangerous. For World Health Day 2011, WHO introduced a six-point policy package to combat the rising threat of drug resistance and called for urgent and concerted action by governments, health professionals, industry and civil society and patients to slow down its global spread, limit its impact today and preserve medical advances for future generations.
On the brink of losing miracle cures
“The message on this World Health Day is loud and clear. The world is on the brink of losing these miracle cures,” said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “In the absence of urgent corrective and protective actions, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated.”
Resistance detected in a number of diseases
Last year, at least 440 000 new cases of multidrug resistant-tuberculosis were detected and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis has been reported in 69 countries to date. The malaria parasite is acquiring resistance to even the latest generation of medicines, and resistant strains causing gonorrhea and shigella are limiting treatment options. Serious infections acquired in hospitals can become fatal because they are so difficult to treat and drug-resistant strains of microorganism are spread from one geographical location to another in today's interconnected and globalized world. Resistance is also emerging to the antiretroviral medicines used to treat people living with HIV.
Measures to combat drug resistance
WHO’s new policy package sets out the measures governments and their national partners need to combat drug resistance. The policy steps recommended by WHO include:
- develop and implement a comprehensive, financed national plan
- strengthen surveillance and laboratory capacity
- ensure uninterrupted access to essential medicines of assured quality
- regulate and promote rational use of medicines
- enhance infection prevention and control
- foster innovation and research and development for new tools.