Antibiotics: running out of alternatives

“A GIFT to be used sparingly” are the words used by the author of an editorial published in The Lancet a decade ago calling for the prudent use of antibiotics to combat antibiotic resistance. 

Whether the advice was heeded is questionable, because 10 years on, the problem of antibiotic resistance has not gone away; in fact, concerns are that the impact of antibiotic resistance means we are headed towards a global health crisis. The World Health Organization (WHO) is so worried about safeguarding antibiotics for future generations that it chose the issue as the focus of this year’s World Health Day in early April.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, did not mince words: “The world is on the brink of losing these miracle cures. The world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated.”

And this chilling warning: “The R&D