Antibiotics are contaminating the world’s rivers

antibiotics

(Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content


om the Mekong to the Seine, the first global study of antibiotics in the world’s rivers has revealed that some contain concentrations up to 300 times above ‘safe’ levels.

Antibiotic pollution was found in two-thirds of the rivers sampled.

Image: AMR Industry Alliance

 

Scientists from York University in England tested samples from rivers in 72 countries. They found safe limits for the most commonly used antibiotics were exceeded in all continents but the highest levels were in Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Describing their findings as “eye opening and worrying”, the scientists said solving the problem would be a mammoth task involving investment in wastewater treatment, tighter regulation and cleaning up contaminated rivers.

“Many scientists and policy makers now recognise the role of the natural environment in the antimicrobial resistance problem. Our data show that antibiotic contamination of rivers could be an important contributor,” said Alistair Boxall, of the York Environmental Sustainability Institute.

Global killers

Antibiotic resistant infections already kill more than 700,000 every year, according to the AMR (antimicrobial resistance) Industry Alliance. As more bacteria develop immunity to treatment, the Alliance of leading drug makers says superbugs will kill more people than cancer by the middle of this century.

Overuse of antibiotics is leading us into a post-antibiotic world in which people will once again die from common infections and minor injuries, the World Health Organisation has said, calling antibiotic resistance one of the biggest threats to humanity.

Bacterial resistance is growing fastest in areas where antibiotics for human and animal use can be bought without prescription.

A study of antibiotic use in the developing world reported that medical staff were prescribing antibiotics as a precaution even if patients were suffering from a virus against which the treatments are known to be ineffective.

No easy answers

Scientists say the only way to slow the growth of resistant infections is to reduce the use of antibiotics worldwide. But new evidence suggests that limiting prescribing to occasional use may not be as effective as previously hoped.

A Harvard University study of patients in the United States found that occasional, low-intensity use by large numbers of people led to more resistance than intensive use by a few.

“More antibiotic use generally means more antibiotic resistance, but it seems like the number of people taking antibiotics might matter more than the amount they’re taking,” said lead author Scott Olesen.

Incentivising research

Image: World Economic Forum

In its report on antimicrobial resistance, the World Economic Forum says poor financial returns are holding back the development of new antibiotics because the $40 billion-a-year global antibiotics market is dominated by generic drugs sold at low prices.

The report says drug companies won’t invest in new treatments unless they are able to recover research costs. And it calls for increased public funding for research and guaranteed financial returns to incentivise companies to find new treatments.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

‘Act fast and do whatever it takes’ to fight the COVID-19 crisis, say leading economists

WHO launches COVID-19 health alert service with Facebook and WhatsApp – Updates from Friday’s WHO briefing

Italy solves the enigma of growth with fiscal consolidation: The Banking Union

Drought in Europe: Member States agree on support measures proposed by the Commission

Insurer CEOs Reveal Marketing Strategies that Communicate the True Value of Insurance Products & Services to the Customer

Insecurity and violence turn Nigeria into a ‘pressure cooker’ that must be addressed, says UN rights expert

How COVID-19 could open the door for driverless deliveries

Will satellites destroy our view of space?

Energy security: The synchronisation of the Baltic States’ electricity networks – European solidarity in action

Why are so few women buying into Bitcoin?

Here’s how we can tackle the growing cybersecurity skills gap

President Michel’s MFF proposal not acceptable for Parliament

More women than ever before are running for political office in the US

New Mozambique storm rips off roofs, brings lashing rain as aid response kicks in

Migration: Commission steps up emergency assistance to Spain and Greece

Syria: A bloody tracer of Trump – Putin rapprochement

Pharmaceuticals spend millions to push TTIP while consumer groups spend peanuts

EU shapes its ambitious strategy on India

Libya: ‘Substantial civilian casualties’ in Derna, UN humanitarian chief ‘deeply concerned’

He died so I could live: UN peacekeeper pays tribute to fallen colleague

North Korean families facing deep ‘hunger crisis’ after worst harvest in 10 years, UN food assessment shows

Why France, Italy and the US press Germany to accept a cheaper euro and pay for Greece

Harmonised Unemployment Rates (HURs), OECD – Updated: February 2020

This is the first ever photo of a black hole

Is Europe misjudging its abilities to endure more austerity and unemployment?

Real EU unemployment rate at 10.2%+4.1%+4.7%: Eurostat Update

It’s not summer holidays what lead to the bad August of the German economy

This is why Dutch teenagers are among the happiest in the world

Draghi’s 2018 compromise: enough money printing to revive inflation and check euro ascent

The creative technology and its advancements

EU Copyright Directive: Will US tech giants comply or ditch the EU market?

The future of manufacturing is smart, secure and stable

We all have a ‘hierarchy of needs’. But is technology meeting them?

Ending the era of dirty textiles

Sweden has invented a word to encourage people not to fly. And it’s working

‘InvestEU’ programme: big boost for jobs, growth and investment

This is the critical number that shows when housing breaks down

Afghanistan probe: ‘at least 60 civilians’ killed after US military airstrikes on alleged drug labs

A Sting Exclusive: “The EU Cybersecurity Act for a more secure and cyber-resilient European Digital Single Market”, by EU Commissioner Gabriel

Endocrine disruptors: A strategy for the future that protects EU citizens and the environment

Why CFOs need to rethink what it means to create value

Commission celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Jean Monnet Activities promoting European studies worldwide

Brazilian healthcare and the Global Compact for safe orderly and regular migration

These are the world’s least – and most – corrupt countries

EU Commission accuses Germany of obstructing growth and the banking union

MWC 2016 Live: Mobile ad industry still waiting for “revolution”

OECD employment rate increases to 68.2% in the first quarter of 2018

Why capital markets have no more reservetions about Eurozone

New UN rights chief pledges to push back on ‘centuries of prejudice and discrimination’

“Only through energy policy we can trigger competitiveness”. The Sting live from #EBS2015: Energy Union – When will it happen?

The COP22 is under full deployment while Donald Trump threatens openly to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement

‘Education transforms lives’ says UN chief on first-ever International Day

This house is made entirely out of recycled rubbish

Niger population’s suffering ‘increasing with each passing month’: UN Refugee Agency

UN health experts warn ‘dramatic resurgence’ of measles continues to threaten the European region

The EU responds to US challenges by fining Apple with €13 billion

Improve collection of data on disasters, Secretary-General Guterres urges

Malta: investigation risks being compromised while Prime Minister is in office

Resettlement needs set to rise to 1.4 million people in 2019, UN refugee agency reports

This is why obesity is classified as a type of malnutrition

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s