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.
Click to hear the report
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.
Click here to hear the vocabulary
- post-antibiotic era
period of time when we don't use antibiotics
- dire consequences
seriously bad results
piece of paper on which a doctor writes the details of the medicine or drugs that someone needs
things that encourage or motivate people to do something
- drug-resistant strains
types (of bacteria) that do not react to drugs
types of medical care
(here) ways of working
increase quickly / get much worse
- to resort to
to do something you don't want to do because there is no other option