GENEVA, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- UN agencies announced on Friday to launch a group of global leaders for preserving antimicrobial medicines and averting the disastrous consequences of antimicrobial resistance.
The initiative was announced by the heads of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health, and the World Health Organization (WHO). Members of the group include heads of government, government ministers, leaders from the private sector and civil society, with the prime ministers of Barbados and Bangladesh as its co-chairs.
The group will harness the leadership and influence of these figures to catalyze global attention and action to preserve antimicrobial medicines and avert the disastrous consequences of antimicrobial resistance, according to WHO.
In his speech at a press briefing on Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that antimicrobial resistance is "one of the greatest health challenges of our time, and we cannot leave it for our children to solve."
According to WHO, misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and agriculture are the main drivers of antimicrobial resistance. Resistant micro-organisms can spread between humans, animals or the environment, and the antimicrobial medicines used to treat various infectious diseases in animals and humans are often the same.
"No single sector can solve this problem alone," said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu at the briefing, who called for collective action to address the threat of antimicrobial resistance across different economic sectors and country borders.
In its latest report on antimicrobial resistance released in June, WHO warned that high rates of resistance among antimicrobials frequently used to treat common infections indicate that the world is running out of effective ways to tackle these diseases. For instance, the rate of resistance to ciprofloxacin, an antimicrobial frequently used to treat urinary tract infections, varied from 8.4 to 92.9 percent in 33 reporting countries.
WHO is concerned that the trend will further be fueled by the inappropriate use of antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence shows that only a small proportion of COVID-19 patients need antibiotics to treat subsequent bacterial infections.
WHO has issued guidance not to provide antibiotic therapy or prophylaxis to patients with mild COVID-19 or to patients with suspected or confirmed moderate COVID-19 illness unless there is a clinical indication to do so. Enditem