Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

World Antibiotic Awareness Week and the One Health concept

Monday, 13 November 2017

Laura H Kahn is a physician and research scholar for the Programme on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. She is also the Co-Founder of the One Health Initiative

This week is World Antibiotic Awareness Week sponsored by the World Health Organization.

Antibiotics are the foundation of modern medicine and they have saved countless lives. In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Dr Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, warned about the dangers of improperly using the drug causing the rise of resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance is increasing

Sadly, his words have proved prescient and today bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to many antibiotics. It is estimated that at least 700,000 people die from antimicrobial infections each year.

If the problem isn’t resolved over the next 30 years, around 10 million deaths could occur annually.

As the problem worsens, a blame game has developed between medicine and agriculture as to who is most at fault.

The medical community blames those in agriculture for indiscriminate antibiotic use, especially the use of low doses of antibiotics to promote growth in food animals. The agriculture community blames those in medicine for inappropriate prescribing practices and widespread overuse. ...

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