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Rational use of antibiotics critical

In its message on World Health Day 2011, the WHO urged intensified global commitment to safeguard antibiotics for future generations. Growing resistance by microbes to antibiotics threatens the continued effectiveness of many medicines. WHO therefore made antimicrobial resistance the theme of this year’s World Health Day.

“The time for sustained action is now, since we are slowly but surely moving towards a reversion to the dreadful pre-antibiotic era”, said Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO’s Regional Director for South-East Asia. “If that happens, death and disease due to untreatable infectious diseases will become the biggest obstacle to poverty alleviation, development, and global efforts to make the world a better and more healthy place”.

In WHO’s South-East Asia Region, inadequate quality, misuse and poor access to drugs continue to be major components of the widespread inappropriate use of antibiotics. Antimicrobial resistance also has enormous social and personal costs. When infections become resistant to first-line antibiotics treatment has to shift to second- and third-line drugs, which are nearly always much more expensive. Similarly, the emergence of resistance in HIV to currently effective drugs could destroy hopes of survival for the millions living with HIV.

Member States in South-East Asia need to take up this challenge and establish monitoring mechanisms and remedial actions at all levels. Combating antimicrobial resistance is a challenge that cannot be addressed by health administrators alone. Misuse of antibiotics by prescribers and users have behavioural, educational, ethical and economic dimensions which demand concerted and sustained actions by all sectors of society. Weak pharmaceutical regulatory mechanisms in most developing countries also permit the availability of antibiotics of questionable quality and the unauthorised sale of these antibiotics.

On the occasion of World Health Day, WHO urged all stakeholders to promote rational use of antibiotics in the fight against infectious diseases.

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