Antibiotics Abuse a Growing Threat in China

Antibiotics Abuse a Growing Threat in China

A South China Morning Post editorial, citing recent research, warns that extensive unrestricted use of antibiotics among Chinese farmers and food producers is a serious public health concern:

Zhu Baoli, a researcher with the Institute of Microbiology at the Chinese Academy of Science, who led the study, said that while mainland doctors tended to prescribe many more antibiotics than their European counterparts, the more serious issue was the use of veterinary antibiotics to increase food production. The drug-resistant bacteria could easily be passed from animals to humans.

The central government declined to provide researchers with data on the use of veterinary antibiotics. If this was an attempt to avoid arousing public concern, it was misguided. The government must take the lead in regulating the use of antibiotics to boost production, press on with health reforms that remove the financial incentive for doctors to overprescribe, and launch a programme to educate people about the danger of overuse and abuse of antibiotics. The latter also goes for Hong Kong, which has come under notice for overuse of antibiotics, and has a growing problem with superbug infections both in hospitals and in the general community. [Source]

Beijing’s reported opacity follows its widely praised openness in responding to the H7N9 flu outbreak earlier this year. An article at Wired magazine (via CDT) recently emphasized the importance of transparency in healthcare by pointing to the lessons of SARS ten years ago. See more on antibiotic resistance, which one researcher calls “the single biggest problem we face in infectious disease today,” via CDT.

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