March 17, 2012
Are We On The Road To The End Of Modern Medicine?
Bacteria could soon become so resistant to antibiotics that common injuries or illnesses could eventually become life-threatening, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned during a conference of infectious disease experts on Friday.
According to NewsCore reports, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan told those attending the meeting, which was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, that even ailments as simple as a scratched knee or a sore throat could someday become fatal.
Furthermore, Daily Mail reporter Mario Ledwith writes that Chan believes that the Earth was quickly approaching what she referred to as the "post-antibiotic era."
As these disease-causing microbes become more and more resistant to the drugs meant to treat the conditions they cause, those injuries and illnesses will become increasingly harder to treat, thus making some "remedies more expensive, and some conditions“¦ untreatable," Ledwith added. If this so-called post-antibiotic era does, in fact, happen, Chan said that it would result in the "end to modern medicine as we know it."
This "post-antibiotic era" would "include many of the breakthrough drugs developed to treat tuberculosis, malaria, bacterial infections and HIV/AIDS, as well as simple treatments for cuts," says Hannah Furness of The Telegraph. Any medicines that would replace existing treatments would not only become more costly, but would also take longer in order to have similar affects as today's antibiotics.
"Some sophisticated interventions, like hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy and care of pre-term infants, would become far more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake," Chan said, according to Ledwith. "Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise in Europe, and elsewhere in the world. Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment and may require treatment in intensive care units."
Chan's warning comes following the release of a WHO book on the topic.
According to Furness, that book, which is entitled 'The Evolving Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance- Options for Action,' claims that "a crisis has been building up over the decades, so that today many common and life-threatening infections are becoming difficult or even impossible to treat, sometimes turning a common infection into a life-threatening one."
The Daily Mail reports that while many countries have already introduced policies attempting to prevent the overuse of antibiotics, that the UN's public health group is seeking worldwide implementation of such measures. The UK paper says that the European Union has acknowledged that they are aware of the problem and have developed a five-year plan to slow down antibiotic use, while medical experts in developing nations are also attempting to find ways to stop the substances from being prescribed too often.