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700,000 deaths annually due to antibiotic resistance
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the number of bacterial strains on which antibiotics are no longer effective is increasing drastically. The organization declares antibiotic resistance to be a growing threat to global health. A current report shows that around 700,000 people die annually because conventional antibiotics no longer work. In the European Union, there are around 33,000 people a year. The number of victims increases every year.
Due to the troubling and rapidly increasing problems, the "Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations" (FAO), the "World Organization for Animal Health" (OIE) and the "World Health Organization" (WHO) teamed up with one Voice to address the growing threat. In their joint statement, they call on governments to take measures against resistance. Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to health, prosperity and food security in the 21st century.
Humans and animals affected equally
As the WHO reports, we share the same bacteria, viruses and fungi as the animals. About 60 percent of all human diseases come from animal microbes. If pathogens that show drug resistance develop in animals, it can easily happen that they spread to humans. The result: Many infectious diseases, which are usually easily curable, suddenly become a life-threatening threat because the most effective drugs fail.
Resistant bacteria - the children of modern cattle breeding
The WHO sees the main reasons for the rapid increase in the excessive use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. Here the drug is not only used for treatment, but also for growth promotion and prevention. The frequent use means that more and more resistant germs form in the intestines of the animals. These are excreted, get into the manure and are thus distributed to countless fields worldwide.
WHO calls for collective action
One country alone cannot stop this development, warns the WHO, because: microbes know no borders. Cross-sectoral measures in public health, veterinary medicine and environmental protection are needed to reduce resistance. "I call on all European countries to ensure that society and the entire government are committed to this approach," said WHO Regional Director for Europe. Zsuzsanna Jakab in a press release.
Antibiotic use needs to be more careful
"With 33,000 deaths a year in Europe alone due to infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and an annual health expenditure of one billion euros, we have to ensure that antibiotics are used more carefully," adds Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control ( ECDC). A cross-border strategy had to be developed because the use of antibiotics differs greatly from country to country. The ECDC calls for measures that are effective at all levels.
How can the problem be solved?
The WHO reports that the first step is to reduce the development of resistance in animal husbandry. The first improvement is already evident here. "Many governments cancel the use of antibiotics as growth promoters and preventive measures for farm animals and use antibiotics in healthy animals only in exceptional cases," said the WHO experts. But there are also countries that have not yet done so.
What is the situation like in Germany?
The use of antibiotics in cattle breeding is declining slightly, but Germany cannot be named as a model here. According to the world's largest animal rights organization, PETA, 733 tons of antibiotics were fed in German stables in 2017. Another study by the Julius Kühn Institute recently found resistant bacteria in many ready-made salad products in German supermarkets. A Laobor study by the environmental protection organization BUND was able to detect antibiotic-resistant germs in meat samples from Aldi, Lidl, Netto, Penny and Real. "Now is the time to act so that we do not lose our ability to heal people and animals for generations", summarize the WHO experts. (vb)