Only 34 countries have plans in place to tackle antibiotic resistance and prevent superbug infections, according to a report.
The report, released on Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO), surveyed 133 countries about their level of preparedness for the growing global issue of antibiotic resistance. Only a quarter of countries that responded to the study said they have comprehensive plans.
“Scientists, medical practitioners and other authorities including WHO have been sounding the warning of the potentially catastrophic impact of ignoring antibiotic resistance,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s assistant director-general for health security in a statement. “Today, we welcome what has been achieved so far, but much more needs to be done to avoid losing the ability to practice medicine and treat both common and serious illnesses.”
The overuse of antibiotics can contribute to the development of disease strains that are resistant to the very drugs used to treat them. Many countries do not have the necessary infrastructure to do proper surveillance of drug resistant diseases, according to the report. The issue of antibiotic sales without a prescription is also widespread and can contribute to overuse.
In 2013, there were an estimated 480,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB). Another strain of drug resistant TB has been discovered in 100 countries, the WHO said. Other drug-resistant diseases have been identified around the world, including infections like gonorrhea and pneumonia.
The agency will be ask countries to declare their commitment to attempting to control the problem, and implement necessary steps to keep superbugs at bay.