The World Health Organization (WHO) has sounded an alarm, cautioning about the diminishing effectiveness of antibiotics due to their misuse, potentially leading to a staggering 10 million deaths globally by 2050, according to their recent survey findings.
This alert, released on Thursday, stems from a comprehensive study conducted by WHO’s European chapter, indicating troubling trends in antibiotic prescriptions.
The study revealed that antibiotics were often prescribed for conditions like the common cold (24 percent), flu-like symptoms (16 percent), sore throat (21 percent), and cough (18 percent).
Surveying 14 countries, mainly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the WHO’s European region observed the misuse of antibiotics, attributing the accelerating development of superbugs to this inappropriate use.
Robb Butler, Director of WHO Europe’s Division of Communicable Diseases, emphasized that strict enforcement of regulations would significantly curb antibiotic misuse.
Highlighting a pressing concern, the WHO flagged incorrect antibiotic prescriptions. The survey found that in the 14 countries, a significant portion of respondents, roughly a third of the 8,200 surveyed, had taken antibiotics without a medical prescription. Shockingly, in some countries, over 40 percent of antibiotics were used without professional advice.
Comparatively, a similar study conducted in the European Union in 2022 displayed a significantly lower rate of antibiotic consumption without medical consultation, standing at just eight percent.
WHO further pointed out substantial gaps in public knowledge about antibiotics, raising concerns that individuals might be using antibiotics for inappropriate reasons unknowingly.
This revelation underscores the necessity for enhanced education and awareness campaigns about the proper use of antibiotics, as stressed by Butler.
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The urgency of the situation is underscored by WHO’s dire projection of potential deaths—up to 10 million annually by 2050—if immediate measures to address antibiotic misuse and misinformation aren’t implemented.
The organization advocates for swift and comprehensive interventions to combat antimicrobial resistance and preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for future generations.