More interest in alternative remedies is likely to feature in
a post-antibiotic world, a University of Otago infectious
diseases authority says.
Webster Centre for Infectious Diseases director Prof Kurt
Krause said the antibiotic resistance problem had become
urgent and decisions had to be made now to develop new
A major World Health Organisation report this week using data
from 114 countries has concluded that without co-ordinated
action, the world faces a post-antibiotic era.
It meant common infections and minor injuries that had been
treatable could be deadly.
Renewed interest would also focus on treatments Western
medicine abandoned in the antibiotic age, Prof Krause said.
This included topical treatments for infections and
''aggressive'' wound care management.
''I think it means we'll have to look at everything brand
new. In this post-antibiotic era we'll be ... looking at
things before antibiotics were on the scene.
''And I think it does suggest that preventive medicines and
alternative medicines will all need to be looked at in a
It was not too late to develop new antibiotics and improve
management of existing ones.
''It's something that as a society we have to come to grips
with now and decide what it is we want to do.
''If we decide as a society antibiotics are a priority, we
can make more antibiotics.
''Buried in all these dry figures there's a story, and the
story is pharmaceutical agencies have pulled back from
designing antibiotics, and funding agencies have pulled back
from funding research on developing antibiotics,'' Prof
Compounding the paucity of research and development,
antibiotics had been poorly managed in clinical practice and
overused in agriculture.
''Personally I think the time for using antibiotics in
agriculture in a general or widespread sense has passed.''
New Zealand's antibiotic problem was not as severe as in
other countries, but it could not afford to be complacent.
''While NZ has been fortunate to avoid the high levels of
resistance seen in the most affected areas, it is important
that ongoing surveillance continues for these organisms and
that clear infection control policies and plans are in place.
''After all, even the most resistant of organisms are
potentially only a plane trip away.''