Antibiotics are indispensable for the treatment of infectious diseases. Formerly deadly diseases such as scarlet fever, septicaemia or tuberculosis were made curable with the discovery of antibiotics, but massive misuse in human medicine and the excessive application in livestock farming has led to a situation where infectious agents have become resistant and antibiotics have lost their effect. According to estimates, hundreds of thousands of people are already dying worldwide every year because antibiotics no longer work as a result of antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance – a man-made problem
Antibiotic resistance is a man-made problem because it is the result of the careless use of medication. Incorrect applications, inappropriate and over-prescription have caused the problems to escalate worldwide. Massive advertising campaigns on the part of the pharmaceutical industry have made a major contribution to this, as well as weak state structures that allow the sale of antibiotics over the counter and thus further promote incorrect use. The G7 states have the problem of antibiotic resistance on their political agenda and while releasing more money for new effective substances is important, it is not sufficient.
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Doctors need to catch up
As antibiotics are only available on prescription in Germany, the excessive and inappropriate use is clearly the fault of the prescribing doctors. Around every third German was prescribed an antibiotic in the last 12 months – often against virus infections such as bronchitis, colds and coughs. The reasons for this are made clear in an interview that reports on the everyday routine in a medical practice.
Antibiotics in agriculture
The global spread of resistance to antibiotics shows just how closely human and animal health is linked. The World Health Organization WHO thus refers to the concept of "One Health". An agricultural expert reports on the connections and explains what is going wrong in animal health.