New York Times (www.nytimes.com) (06/13/00) P. D2
The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that some
diseases that were once treatable with antibiotics are now
incurable due to misuse of the drugs and overprescribing. The
WHO said that one of the "major health care disasters of the
20th century" is the abuse of antibiotics such that gonorrhea
has shifted from "a once-curable nuisance, into a potentially
life-threatening contagion." In many parts of Southeast Asia,
penicillin has become virtually useless in treating gonorrhea
strains, and untreated the disease can help spread HIV. Dr.
David Heymann, head of the WHO's program on communicable
diseases, said, "If we hadn't eradicated smallpox in 1980, we
probably couldn't today." He pointed out that the HIV
epidemic and the lowered immunity it generates would also
challenge the efficacy of the vaccine against smallpox. The
WHO called for a global effort to increase vaccinations
against preventable diseases and to educate both healthcare
workers and the public about how to use medicine. The agency
recommended a reduction in the use of drugs for animal growth.
The report said that drug resistance was a problem for several
diseases, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, malaria,
diarrheal diseases, typhoid, and hepatitis.