Antibiotic resistance has a language problem

by Marc Mendelson, Manica Balasegaram, Tim Jinks et al.
Nature 545, 23–25 (04 May 2017)

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Clinicians have long known that microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi are becoming alarmingly resistant to the medicines used to treat them. But a global response to this complex health threat — commonly termed ‘antimicrobial resistance’ — requires engagement from a much broader array of players, from governments, regulators and the public, to experts in health, food, the environment, economics, trade and industry. People from these disparate domains are talking past each other.The authors encourage the UN, through its newly formed interagency group tasked with fighting antibiotic resistance, to undertake a review of terminology. Unless messages are clear and unambiguous, they say, we will fail to promote the public’s understanding of what needs to be done.

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