Superbug crisis: World leaders meet as threat grows

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Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are a global health threat and now world leaders intend to do something about it.

The United Nations will host a high-level meeting Wednesday to encourage continued international support for antibiotic stewardship initiatives and increase awareness of antibiotic resistance, according to an announcement,

Healthcare industry leaders studying antibiotic resistance tell STAT that the meeting shows just how dangerous superbugs have become. 

“I’ve worked on this issue for almost 20 years,” Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy, told STAT. “And I think even five years ago I couldn’t have guessed that this would reach the height of the UN General Assembly.”

Antibiotic resistance is driven by overprescribing, and antibiotic stewardship programs have cropped up at hospitals and healthcare facilities across the country to help cut back the number of unneeded prescriptions. Despite those efforts, some bacteria are resistant to nearly all antibiotics.

The U.N.’s meeting will last for most of the day Wednesday, according to the announcement, and will touch on both bacterial resistance and the importance of antibiotic stewardship. The U.N. will also bring other stakeholders into the discussions, according to the announcement, including veterinarians, farmers, finance leaders and environmental advocates.

Part of the reason a global approach is so important, according to the STAT article, is that possible remedies for populations in the West may not be as effective in more underdeveloped areas, so every region must be taken into account.

“What has become clear is that the problem is very large, it’s very extensive, and very complex,” Kenji Fukada, M.D., special representative on antimicrobial resistance to the World Health Organization’s director general, told the publication.

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