The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning regarding the overuse of antibiotics. Experts believe that if this trend continues, even a normal infection can prove to be deadly.
Director-General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan said, "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."
Humans are developing resistance to the first line antimicrobials. Continuous overuse could gradually render every antibiotic ever produced ineffective. Pharmaceutical companies will also have few incentives to produce new antibiotics. They would not want to invest money to develop better antimicrobial drugs because overuse will render them ineffective in a few years.
Replacement treatments are more expensive, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment and may require treatment in intensive care units. Chan said, "In terms of new replacement antibiotics, the pipeline is virtually dry. The cupboard is nearly bare."
Under such circumstances routine procedures like hip replacement surgery or complex procedures like organ transplant could become too risky to carry out. Caring for preterm infants would also become difficult.
Dr. Chan is urging the doctors to prescribe antibiotics only when strictly necessary, and urged authorities to resist using antibiotics in food production. This could help tackle the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).