Antibiotic resistance will end modern medicine and push us into a “post-antibiotic apocalypse”, England’s chief medical officer has warned.
Dame Sally Davies has issued a call to action urging global leaders to address the growing threat of resistance to antibiotics.
Professor Davies warns antibiotic resistance can jeopardise everyday medical procedures and make them “risky” – including caesarean sections, cancer treatments and hip replacements.
She also says without drugs to treat infections, transplant medicine would be a “thing of the past”.
Professor Davies told Sky News: “The post-antibiotic apocalypse is that when you get an infection, we cannot guarantee it will be curable, treatable, so, conditions like routine operations will be a serious risk to life.
“Transplants and cancer treatments will be very risky. We already have deaths across the world because of drug-resistant infections, we cannot put up with this.
“I don’t want to say to my children that I didn’t do my best to protect them and their children.”
The World Health Organisation says antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today.
Every year, about 700,000 people worldwide die from drug-resistant infections such as tuberculosis and malaria.
What are antibiotics for?
They are used to treat infections caused by bacteria, such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia and gonorrhoea to name a few. Antibiotics do not treat viral infections such as the common cold, flu or chicken pox.
When should antibiotics be used?
Antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections. They kill bacteria and prevent them from spreading.
I rarely take antibiotics, could I still be immune to them?
Yes, because it is the bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics rather than the carrier.
Why are infections becoming resistant to them?
Although antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, it is being accelerated to dangerously high levels due to widespread misuse. Another contributing factor is that certain countries sell antibiotics over the counter without a prescription.
What can you do to help prevent antibiotic resistance?
WHO advises that individuals should only use antibiotics when they have been prescribed by a doctor and never demand them if your doctor says you do not need them.
Never share or use leftover antibiotics and always follow your doctor’s advice when they have been prescribed.
(c) Sky News 2017: ‘Post-antibiotic apocalypse’ could make everyday procedures ‘risky’