World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 each year to commemorate the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948 by the United Nations (UN). Each year, the event brings worldwide attention to an important global health priority. World Health Day 2011 focuses on educating people of all ages to the dangers of antimicrobial resistance in microorganisms and active steps that can be taken to combat it.
The first antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered by accident by Alexander Fleming, after he noticed the substance repelling bacteria from a laboratory plate. By the 1940’s antibiotics had become commonplace.
After half a century of antibiotic use, and significant increases in the use of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and agriculture, many microbes have developed a resistance to these drugs, and many antibiotics (antimicrobials) now produce only a weakened effect or no effect at all. HIV, Staphylococcal infection, tuberculosis (TB), influenza, and malaria are all examples of diseases that are becoming increasingly difficult to control due to the emergence of drug-resistant strains. People infected with drug-resistant strains are more likely to have longer and more expensive hospital stays. As resistance increases, the patient’s risk for complications or death from infection also increases.
Through President Obama's Global Health Initiative (GHI), the United States is making consolidated efforts to combat growing antimicrobial resistance around the world.
The U.S. Government provides vital global technical leadership in epidemiology and surveillance, laboratory strengthening, and clinical/operational research to accelerate actions to control multi-drug resistance. Through the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI), we are also addressing challenges such as TB and HIV/AIDS co-infection, while improving health delivery systems and building stronger community awareness.