Misuse of Antibiotics Lead to Drug-Resistant Bugs in China: WHO

The overuse of antibiotics in China is increasing the risks of drug-resistant diseases like tuberculosis, the World Health Organization and China’s Health Ministry warned last week.

Antibiotics are often prescribed to patients who don’t need them, as a way to generate income for hospitals. The drugs are also increasingly being misused in China’s food industry. The Associated Press reported last Thursday that antibiotics are being found in foods like fish and honey.

Overusing antibiotics can create superbugs that become resistant to conventional drugs. According to WHO’s representative in China Dr. Michael O’Leary, about 6.8% of tuberculosis cases in the country are multiple-drug resistant. This is much higher than the 2% rate in most developed countries.

O’Leary says drug-resistant bacteria are dangerous to patients because infections take longer to treat, and there is a greater risk of death.

On Monday, Chinese state-run media reported authorities are looking to draw up guidelines to control the use of antibiotics.

According to China’s Ministry of Health, 70% of Chinese patients are given antibiotics when only 20% actually need them.