1. ITV Report

Lack of antibiotics a 'global health emergency', WHO warns

Antibiotics are, supposedly, running out. Credit: PA

The world is facing a "global health emergency", according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A growing resistance to fighting infections, means the world is running out of antibiotics in order to combat illnesses.

A WHO report found a serious lack of new drugs are being developed to solve resistance to antibiotics.

Certain surgeries may become too dangerous. Credit: PA

Experts have warned resistance to antimicrobial drugs could be a greater threat to mankind than cancer.

Key medical procedures, such as gut surgery, caesarean sections, joint replacements and chemotherapy rely on the effectiveness of antibiotics, meaning they could be too dangerous to perform in the future.

Drug-resistant infections cause around 700,000 deaths a year worldwide, and if no action is taken that number to increase to 10 million by 2050.

A lack of new drugs are being developed. Credit: PA

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said: "Antimicrobial resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize progress in modern medicine.

"There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB, otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery."

Dr Suzanne Hill, director of the department of essential medicines at WHO, added: "Pharmaceutical companies and researchers must urgently focus on new antibiotics against certain types of extremely serious infections that can kill patients in a matter of days because we have no line of defence."

One of the proposals set out in the review suggested that doctors should be forced to perform diagnostic tests on patients before prescribing antibiotics.

More research needs to be done, according to experts. Credit: PA

Another proposal suggested that pharmaceutical companies should "play or pay" - meaning they either join the search to hunt for new antibiotics or be forced to pay a fine. Those who do and find successful new treatments should be rewarded handsomely.

Health leaders from around the world have raised serious concerns about the growing resistance to antimicrobial drugs. These are the drugs which destroy harmful microbes.

Antibiotics are the best known of these drugs, but there are others, such as antivirals, antimalarial drugs and antifungals.

Earlier this month the Government and the British reserach charity the Wellcome Trust joined Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland to pledge more than 56 million Euros to the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership.