START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
2,044,168 people care about Health Policy

WHO Chief: The End of Modern Medicine Is Coming

WHO Chief: The End of Modern Medicine Is Coming

What would the world look like if an injury from a minor infection could kill you? Where bacterial illnesses like strep had no treatment? Where the risk of infection made it too dangerous for simple, routine surgeries such as hip replacements? Where the risk of infection would be great enough to render chemotherapy useless?

According to Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, this could soon be reality. At a meeting with infection disease experts in Copenhagen, she stated simply that every antibiotic in the arsenal of modern medicine may soon become useless due to the rise of antibiotic resistant diseases. The Independent quoted her explaining the ramifications:

“A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.”

She continued: “Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise in Europe, and elsewhere in the world. We are losing our first-line antimicrobials.

“Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment, and may require treatment in intensive care units.

“For patients infected with some drug-resistant pathogens, mortality has been shown to increase by around 50 per cent.

“Some sophisticated interventions, like hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy, and care of preterm infants, would become far more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake.”

Around the world, more and more pathogens are spreading which don’t respond to any known antibiotic drugs. In India, there has been a recent outbreak of drug-resistant TB. And in the US, the CDC warns that a new strain of gonorrhea is on the rise – and it is resistant to most forms of antibiotics. The agency warns that it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing outbreaks of untreatable STIs. (And the fact that sex education in the US rarely warns teens how to adequately protect themselves from STIs probably won’t help.)

So why is this happening? There are a couple of troubling reasons – the first that Chan points to is the heavy use of antibiotics in livestock. In the US, a full 80% of the country’s antibiotics go to farm animals, not human beings. And the FDA has done little to discourage this. The only solution here is to go vegetarian/vegan, or start paying more for organic (not “natural”) meat, eggs, and dairy that have never been exposed to antibiotics.

The other reason is just depressing: there’s no money to be made, apparently, in developing new antibiotics. Chan says:

“In terms of new replacement antibiotics, the pipeline is virtually dry. The cupboard is nearly bare.

“From an industry perspective, why invest considerable sums of money to develop a new antimicrobial when irrational use will accelerate its ineffectiveness before the investment can be recouped?”

She called for measures to tackle the threat by doctors prescribing antibiotics appropriately, patients following their treatment and restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animals.

But she said attention was “still sporadic” and actions “inadequate”.

“At a time of multiple calamities in the world, we cannot allow the loss of essential antimicrobials, essential cures for many millions of people, to become the next global crisis,” she said.

Related Stories:

Antibiotics Don’t Work Against Superbugs

This News Could Kill You: FDA & Antibiotics

Update: FDA Restricts Some Antibiotics in Livestock

Read more: , , , , ,

Photo credit: Psyberartist

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
10:20AM PDT on May 9, 2013

Yikes! Thank you!

3:08PM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

Do you two make it a habit of copying and pasting the writings of others?

There's a word for that - PLAGIARISM.

2:57PM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

Antibiotics are anti-bacterials only; anti-virals are distinctly different

2:57PM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

Antibiotics are anti-bacterials only; anti-virals are distinctly different

8:57AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Sorry, Jack, but John is correct.

Antibiotics are anti-bacterials only; anti-virals are distinctly different.

5:04AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Jack E

Viruses are susceptible to antiviral medicines. They are not affected by antibiotics. Stop being so ignorant.

4:56AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

John you need to get some real information on what a virus is and how it is cured.

3:51AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Jack E

"People really need to start wising up and get a handle on their own health. People know today that antibiotics are useless unless it is to halt a virus attack and then it has to be the right antibiotic."

You are the one who needs to wise up. Antibiotics are useless against viruses, so will not "halt a virus attack". It is this sort of ignorance and misinformation that is part of the problem.

3:41AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

People really need to start wising up and get a handle on their own health. People know today that antibiotics are useless unless it is to halt a virus attack and then it has to be the right antibiotic.

Stop harassing the DR and stop using all these antibiotic soaps that are creating more harm than good. Protest the use of antibiotics in animal feed.

10:51PM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

"In the 2010 report of new drugs and vaccines in the pipeline I (hastily) count 87 different antibiotics and antibacterials in Phase I, II and III clinical trials!"

Which means, does it not, that they are focused on known strains that PRE-EXIST said date, does it not.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

I live in the city, but all of you who can live and let live in a farm, thank you!!! …

@ Kamia C."a CENTURIES-long history of abuse, decimation, selling each other off into slavery", That's…

Except for parts of the West, the US is sending billions of acre-feet of rainwater to the ocean. Most…

meet our writers

Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.