The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Monday against the dangerous rise in antibiotic consumption in some countries, but also the under-consumption in other regions, which are the major causes of antimicrobial resistance and the emergence of deadly "superbugs"
The WHO report, which is based on 2015 data collected in 65 countries and regions, shows a significant difference in consumption, ranging from 4 daily defined doses (DDD) per 1,000 inhabitants per day in Burundi to more than 64 in Mongolia.
"These differences indicate that some countries are probably consuming too much antibiotics while others may not have enough access to these drugs," warned the WHO in a statement.
Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics saved tens of millions of lives by effectively fighting bacteriological diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and meningitis. But over the decades, bacteria have changed to resist these drugs.
The WHO warned, on many occasions, that the world was going to run out of effective antibiotics, and last year the UN specialized agency asked states and major pharmaceutical companies to create a new drug. generation of drugs capable of combating ultra-resistant "superbugs"
"Over-consumption and under-consumption of antibiotics are major causes of antimicrobial resistance," said Suzanne Hill, chief of the WHO's essential drugs unit, in a statement.
"Without effective antibiotics and other antimicrobials, we will lose our ability to treat common infections like pneumonia," she warned.
Bacteria can become resistant when patients use antibiotics they do not need, or do not complete their treatment, giving the bacteria a chance to survive and develop immunity. But WHO is also worried about the under-consumption of antibiotics.
"Resistance can occur when patients can not afford full treatment or access only substandard or adulterated drugs," the report noted.
However, the WHO acknowledges that its report is incomplete because it includes only four African countries, three from the Near East and six from the Asia-Pacific region.
The major absentees of this study include the United States, China and India.
Since 2016, WHO has helped 57 average and poor countries collect data to create a standardized system for monitoring antibiotic consumption.