Drug resistant diseases a global threat: WHO

The rising threat of antibiotic resistance and the lack of development for new drugs to combat the danger could lead to more deaths, the World Health Organization says.

In a report released on Thursday titled “Antibacterial Agents in Clinical Development”, the agency said in the last 70 years, no antibiotic has been developed to combat the growing threat of Tuberculosis (TB) multidrug resistance, which kills around 250,000 people every year.


According to the study, there were very few potential treatment options for antibiotic-resistant infections identified by WHO as posing the greatest threat to man.

“Only seven new agents for TB are in clinical trials. Of these, four are in phase-1, and only one compound is in phase-3.

“This is, especially, problematic because treatment of TB requires a combination of at least three antibiotics,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“New short-term treatments that assemble non-toxic drugs are desperately needed.”

Most of the drugs in the clinical pipeline are modifications of existing classes of antibiotics and are only short-term solutions.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a health emergency that will jeopardise progress in modern medicine.

“If nothing is done, we will go back to a time people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.

He called for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections.

The report identified 51 new antibiotics and biologicals being developed expected to treat TB and the sometimes deadly diarrhoeal infection, Clostridium difficile.

WHO identified 12 classes of priority pathogens, some of them leading to common illnesses such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections that were increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Among the candidate medicines, only eight were classed by WHO as innovative treatment.

TB is one of the most deadly disease in Kenya.


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