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

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

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

Macron’s Presidency: what the young generation’s expectations are

Health without borders: How we can Improve International Collaboration in Health Care

3 reasons we should all care about biodiversity

ISIL’s ‘legacy of terror’ in Iraq: UN verifies over 200 mass graves

What is hydroponics – and is it the future of farming?

Why are the Balkans’ political leaders meeting in Geneva this week?

Do all you can to resolve climate change ‘sticking points’ UN chief urges South-East Asian leaders, in Bali

Chernobyl nuclear disaster-affected areas spring to life, 33 years on

The Italian crisis may act as a catalyst for less austerity

End ‘political opportunism’ that’s letting hate speech flourish, urges top UN genocide official

Migration crisis update: Greece could probably say goodbye to Schengen really soon

Philippe de Backer of ALDE at European Business Summit 2015 stresses: “Reinvent your business”

UN food relief agency airlifts aid to DR Congo province hit by Ebola outbreak

IQ scores have been falling for decades, new study finds

Capital markets selloff: The financial moguls send messages to monetary authorities

Globalization 4.0 must build a better world for working people

TTIP is not dead as of yet, the 15th round of negotiations in New York shouts

It’s time we took a seat ‘at your table’: Guterres calls on world youth to keep leading climate emergency response

More answers from Facebook ahead of Parliament hearing today

The creative technology and its advancements

Brexit: European Commission intensifies preparedness work and outlines contingency action plan in the event of a no deal scenario with the UK

EU budget for 2021-2027: Commission welcomes provisional agreement on Horizon Europe, the future EU research and innovation programme

A Sting Exclusive: “Consumer expectations for the 2015 UN summit on climate change”, Director General of BEUC Monique Goyens outlines from Brussels

EU budget 2021-2027: Commission calls on leaders to set out a roadmap towards an autumn agreement

Governments and non-state actors need to take urgent action to meet Paris Agreement goals

Travel the world, find yourself

‘No safe way’ into battle-scarred Afghan city of Ghazni to deliver aid as traumatized children search for parents

This project is turning abandoned fishing gear into volleyball nets

5 ways to fast-track the transition to a carbon neutral world

‘Ground-breaking innovation’ needed in cities, where battle for sustainable development will be won or lost, says UN agency chief

Why we need a moderate approach to moderating online content

‘Global sisterhood’ tells perpetrators ‘time is up’ for pandemic of violence

Medical students as the critical link to address climate change

‘Passport to dignity’ that schools represent may expire fast, without emergency funding warns UN Palestine refugee agency

Fostering intergenerational solidarity and cooperation through age-friendly environments: the right answer to Europe’s demographic challenge

Prisoner executions in Belarus ‘simply unacceptable’, says UN rights body

These charts show where the world’s refugees came from in 2017 – and where they’re heading

Why saving our forests should be a global priority

Consumer product quality: Parliament takes aim at dual standards

EU Parliament: No EU-US trade agreement without safe data

China hopes EU Commissioner De Gucht drops super anti-dumping tariff on solar panels

Environmental labelling, information and management schemes are central to the circular economy

‘Safe Eurobonds’: a new trick to betray the south euro area countries

Moves to create a Kosovo army have ‘deteriorated relations’ with Serbia: UN peacekeeping chief

Although Greece is struggling to pay salaries and pensions Varoufakis is “optimistic”; the Sting reports live from EBS 2015

OECD sees global growth slowing, as Europe weakens and risks persist

Israel @ MWC14: Israel The Start App Nation

Backed by UN, Asia-Pacific countries to advance space technology for ‘development transformation’

UN member states express their will to tackle global migration but specific actions are still missing

‘Virtual Biopsy’ device detects skin tumours in 15 minutes

Fleeing Venezuela: MEPs to probe humanitarian conditions in Colombia and Brazil

CDU-SPD agree the terms for EU’s Banking Union

The ECB again takes care of the bankers not the people

European Parliament calls on Russia to end occupation of Georgian territories

A Sting Exclusive: “Change is challenge, change is opportunity”, Commissioner Bienkowska cries out live from European Business Summit 2015

This new way of understanding disease is changing medicine

UN mission welcomes Afghan government’s announcement of Eid holiday ceasefire

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

Climate change will force us to redefine economic growth

European Commissioner for Youth wants young people to be at heart of policy making

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