How an antibiotics crisis could help world's common infections to kill again

ITV News has travelled across the world to report on the growing global threat of the spread of deadly drug-resistant 'super bugs'.

In the final part of our three-part series, we investigate an antibiotics crisis in the Middle East that has emerged as one of the biggest dangers to world health.

When you have been left badly injured or are suffering from great trauma you will look to anything to ease the pain.

But those relying on non-prescribed antibiotics can make their problems worse - while building up a resistance to the powerful drugs that can help them.

The problem is a byproduct of the crisis care used to keep people alive during conflicts in the Middle East.

Desperate treatments in makeshift hospitals in Yemen, Iraq and Syria mean patients have developed extraordinarily high levels of resistance.

It is a problem that has spilled over into Jordan.

ITV News visited a specialist hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in the capital Amman that receives and helps hundreds of war wounded from Jordan's nearby and neighbouring countries every year.

Doctors at Al-Mowasah Hospital say 60% of patients show some signs of resistance to antibiotics, an astonishing figure given the traumas the patients have endured.

Mohammed Al-Khulaidi was hit in the face by stray gunfire while shopping at a market in Yemen.

Mohammed Al-Khulaidi's jaw wound is still too infected to be treated on. Credit: ITV News

He received potent, high doses of antibiotics to help his jaw recover.

But, as ITV News observes, his fourth operation in Jordan goes nowhere with the surgeon finding his wound is still too infected to do the surgery he needs.

It should have been a simple treatment, but his antibiotics aren't working. He's persistently affected.

Reyam Hussein is in a similar position. She had suffered a fractured arm and pelvis falling from a building hit by an explosion in Iraq.

Reyam Hussein's fractured arm has become infected. Credit: ITV News

"I thought I was going to die," she told ITV News. "Then I got an infection and doctors tried to treat it in Iraq. I took lots of medicine but nothing helps."

Scientists at the hospital in Amman are studying samples, trying to find how the patients are becoming resistant and what can be done to fight the advanced diseases.

The test results show antibiotics and antimicrobials (agents that kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms) are destroying most bacteria, but not all.

Existing antibiotics are killing most bacteria, but not all. Credit: ITV News

The danger is these resistant diseases could spread across the globe.

Jordan, like other nations in the region, has additional problems with antibiotics.

With the drugs widely available over the counter, the country is battling one of the world's worst rates of over-consumption. It is three times the UK's, despite a population of less than 10 million.

Jordan's health minister Dr Mahmoud al-Sheyyab is leading the fight to tackle antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance.

Jordan's health minister Dr Mahmoud al-Sheyyab said outside help is needed. Credit: ITV News

The paediatric oncologist, who previously worked in the UK at Birmingham's Children's Hospital, is working with the World Health Organisation and has initiated a national effort to reduce consumption.

He accepts "sometimes there are gaps here and there" that need to be closed to prevent the illegal distribution of antibiotics.

Dr al-Sheyyab told ITV News: "We have a plan: awareness, surveillance, prevention. (But) just one country working alone on this issue will not be efficient."

The ultimate threat is that, without action, the world could career towards a post-antibiotic era, where common infections treated instantly could kill again.