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Last updated at 14:01 GMT, Monday, 18 November 2013

Biggest threat to modern medicine claim

Summary

18 November 2013

Global health experts have warned that bacteria unaffected by antibiotics are one of the most serious threats to modern medicine. Writing in the medical journal, The Lancet, the experts are calling for people across the world to work together to fight the threat.

Reporter:

Danny Aeberhard

Antibiotic tablets

Could antibiotics like these be ineffective against some illnesses in the future?

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The experts warn we're at the dawn of a post-antibiotic era. Immediate global action is needed, they say, if dire consequences are to be avoided within just a few years.

This would involve cutting down on the unnecessary prescription of antibiotics and providing incentives to pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs. Research would be needed into how antibiotics in farming affect the growth of drug-resistant strains of bacteria.

The experts warn that without effective antibiotics, treatments ranging from minor surgery to current cancer chemotherapy regimes could become impossible and that deaths from infections in developed countries might return to levels last seen in the early 20th century.

They also say healthcare costs would probably spiral, as we'd be forced to resort to newer, more expensive drugs and stay in hospital for longer when recovering from illness.

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Vocabulary

post-antibiotic era

period of time when we don't use antibiotics

dire consequences

seriously bad results

prescription

piece of paper on which a doctor writes the details of the medicine or drugs that someone needs

incentives

things that encourage or motivate people to do something

drug-resistant strains

types (of bacteria) that do not react to drugs

effective

successful

treatments

types of medical care

regimes

(here) ways of working

spiral

increase quickly / get much worse

to resort to

to do something you don't want to do because there is no other option

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