[Ip-health] WHO Chief: The End of Modern Medicine Is Coming

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Sat Mar 17 17:59:27 PDT 2012

[This from WHO who consistently has underfunded and marginalised 
rational use of medicine, well so that industrial agriculture and 
pharmaceutical companies can continue business as usual...]

WHO Chief: The End of Modern Medicine Is Coming

by Julie Rodriguez
March 16, 2012

What would the world look like if an injury from a minor infection could 
kill you? Where bacterial illnesses like strep had no treatment? Where 
the risk of infection made it too dangerous for simple, routine 
surgeries such as hip replacements? Where the risk of infection would be 
great enough to render chemotherapy useless?

According to Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health 
Organization, this could soon be reality. At a meeting with infection 
disease experts in Copenhagen, she stated simply that every antibiotic 
in the arsenal of modern medicine may soon become useless due to the 
rise of antibiotic resistant diseases. The Independent quoted her 
explaining the ramifications:

“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.”

She continued: “Antimicrobial resistance is on the rise in Europe, and 
elsewhere in the world. We are losing our first-line antimicrobials.

“Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer 
durations of treatment, and may require treatment in intensive care units.

“For patients infected with some drug-resistant pathogens, mortality has 
been shown to increase by around 50 per cent.

“Some sophisticated interventions, like hip replacements, organ 
transplants, cancer chemotherapy, and care of preterm infants, would 
become far more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake.”

Around the world, more and more pathogens are spreading which don’t 
respond to any known antibiotic drugs. In India, there has been a recent 
outbreak of drug-resistant TB. And in the US, the CDC warns that a new 
strain of gonorrhea is on the rise – and it is resistant to most forms 
of antibiotics. The agency warns that it’s only a matter of time before 
we start seeing outbreaks of untreatable STIs. (And the fact that sex 
education in the US rarely warns teens how to adequately protect 
themselves from STIs probably won’t help.)

So why is this happening? There are a couple of troubling reasons – the 
first that Chan points to is the heavy use of antibiotics in livestock. 
In the US, a full 80% of the country’s antibiotics go to farm animals, 
not human beings. And the FDA has done little to discourage this. The 
only solution here is to go vegetarian/vegan, or start paying more for 
organic (not “natural”) meat, eggs, and dairy that have never been 
exposed to antibiotics.

The other reason is just depressing: there’s no money to be made, 
apparently, in developing new antibiotics. Chan says:

“In terms of new replacement antibiotics, the pipeline is virtually dry. 
The cupboard is nearly bare.

“From an industry perspective, why invest considerable sums of money to 
develop a new antimicrobial when irrational use will accelerate its 
ineffectiveness before the investment can be recouped?”

She called for measures to tackle the threat by doctors prescribing 
antibiotics appropriately, patients following their treatment and 
restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animals.

But she said attention was “still sporadic” and actions “inadequate”.

“At a time of multiple calamities in the world, we cannot allow the loss 
of essential antimicrobials, essential cures for many millions of 
people, to become the next global crisis,” she said.

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