Each year 700,000 people die worldwide (99,000 in the USA and 25,000 in Europe) as a result of antibiotic resistance.
These high death tolls are due to killers called super bacteria, or rather, germs that are able to resist all types of antibiotics. The most common include:
- Enterococcus faecium;
- Staphylococcus aureus;
- Klebsiella pneumoniae;
- Acinetobacter baumannii;
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa;
WHO efforts to keep to contain the phenomenon
The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2050 antibiotic resistance will cause at least 10 million deaths per year, becoming the number one cause of death in the world. Antibiotic resistance has, thus, become a dramatic problem. Despite progress in research in different fields, very few new molecules have been discovered in the last few years. Yet the battle has just begun. Over-prescription of antibiotics in medicine and the overuse of antibiotics in livestock and agriculture have contributed to the development of this phenomenon. The overuse of antibiotics has been demonstrated. A study carried out in six large hospitals in the United States revealed that 60% of the patients are given an antibiotic within the fourth day of hospitalization. In 30% of these cases, the antibiotic is prescribed even in the absence of signs or symptoms of infection. We must now find a way to prevent the selection and transmission of bacteria resistant to antibiotics. For now, the main response is to promote a more prudent use of antibiotics and apply infection control strategies through a global approach that encompasses all areas of healthcare. WHO has already adopted an ambitious plan to tackle this problem and each individual nation (more than 100 countries) is implementing national action plans to attack the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance.
Italy’s approach to antibiotic resistance
Italy’s national action plan on antimicrobial resistance includes specific strategies to motivate the responsible use of antibiotics and to increase monitoring and enforcement plans. Most of all, Italy will introduce indicators into the national standards of care system (LEAs), such as reducing the use of antibiotics across the nation by 10% and by 5% in hospitals, that will be contingent on regional funds. Once these strategies are implemented, the National Health Service will also save a great deal of money, considering direct costs of resistant infections exceed 230 million per year, the same amount of money intended for the new immunization policy. We hope these new measures will help tackle one of the greatest problems in our country- hospital-acquired infections. The superbug killer Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase producer has become resistant to all antibiotics in over 50% of the cases, while hospital-acquired infections emerge in approximately 3 out of every 1,000 severe hospitalizations. This is true, generally speaking, even in Italy. In order to contain the evolution of the antibiotic resistant phenomenon, we need to limit redundant prescriptions, reduce the spectrum and number of antibiotics administered to each patient and restrict, when possible, the duration of therapy. Furthermore, we need specific strategies, especially for long-term care facilities and for general practioners, that give priority to research and innovation.
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