Antibiotic Use, Resistance Threaten Global Health

Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan speaks at NIH.
Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan speaks at NIH.

The problem isn’t new. Scientists observed antibiotic resistance 75 years ago, before penicillin was ever used. However, as antibiotic use rises rapidly worldwide, resistance continues to climb. It is now a burgeoning public health threat. How can we conserve these miracle drugs so they continue to fight disease and save lives?

“We started having a significant health burden associated with resistance only in the 2000s, and that has contributed in large part to the advocacy and to the policy action—at least to the talk of policy action—that we hear today,” said Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, an economist and epidemiologist who is director and senior fellow, Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy. He spoke to a packed Lipsett Amphitheater at NIAID’s John Ring LaMontagne Memorial Lecture recently.

Antibiotic use has risen by more than 36 percent in 72 countries from 2000 to 2010. Rising incomes—especially in such emerging economies as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—largely account for the growing global access to antibiotics. And high-income countries remain large consumers; U.S. per capita antibiotic consumption, for example, is double that of India and triple that of China, said Laxminarayan.

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Positive Outlook on Life Key to Healthy Aging

Dr. Jimmie Holland talks to a Grand Rounds audience.
Dr. Jimmie Holland talks to a Grand Rounds audience.

Aging isn’t as bad as it seems. Sure, there are downsides to growing older. But, on average, seniors report a better quality of life than people much younger, said Dr. Jimmie C. Holland at the Contemporary Clinical Medicine: Great Teachers Grand Rounds Lecture in Lipsett Amphitheater recently.

“Life doesn’t actually get better, but you perceive it differently, and with greater gratitude,” said the 88-year-old Holland, an attending psychiatrist and Wayne L. Chapman chair in psychiatric oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “As my husband, Jim, who has been ill the last couple of years, often says, ‘I’m glad to be here. I’m glad to be anywhere.’”

This is true in every country in which studies have been done, including both developed and developing countries.

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