China's health ministry and the World Health Organization are calling for urgent government action to limit the use of antibiotics, saying drug overuse by doctors and hospitals is spawning drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis at much higher rates than found in other countries.
Vice Health Minister Ma Xiaowei, speaking Thursday in Beijing at a ceremony marking World Health Day, called on hospitals to use antibiotics in "scientific and rational" ways.
Ma's comments came as the WHO representative in China, Michael O'Leary, warned that nearly seven percent of tuberculosis cases in China are multiple-drug resistant, compared to the two percent rate in most developed countries.
O'Leary is quoted by the Associated press as saying urgent action is needed now because replacement drugs can not be developed fast enough to replace the drugs that have lost their effectiveness.
In Geneva, WHO Chief Margaret Chan warned that the world is, in her words, "on the brink of losing these miracle cures." She urged immediate action to avert what she called a looming post-antibiotic era, in which she says many common infections will no longer have a cure, and, once again, kill unabated.