The spread of major multidrug-resistant bacteria has been controlled at medical institutions in China, according to Xiao Yonghong, a top health adviser and a professor of infectious diseases.
Health authorities have been emphasizing the control of bacterial drug resistance and the rational use of antibiotics, and efforts made in the past 10 years have yielded noticeable results, said Xiao, a member of the National Health and Family Planning Commission's expert committee for rational use of drugs and a professor at Zhejiang University's First Affiliated Hospital.
Last year, antibiotics dispensed at medical institutions across China accounted for 11.2 percent of the total value of all drugs sold at those institutions, compared with 19.7 percent in 2010, he said.
In 2010, more than 67 percent of inpatients in China used antibiotics, and nearly 20 percent of outpatients used antibiotics. By the end of last year, the percentages decreased to 37.5 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively.
The quantity and frequency of antibiotics used on patients also saw a decrease of about 41 percent from 2010 to 2016, according to Xiao.
With the reduced use of antibiotics, the proportion of cases of major multidrug-resistant bacteria at medical institutions in China have been controlled, with cases of some declining and some rising but at a slower rate, he said.
"Gaps still remain between China and countries that have taken the lead in the control of bacterial drug resistance, but China is close to the US and major countries in Europe in certain aspects," Xiao said.
For example, the proportion of cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a type of multidrug resistant bacteria prevalent in many countries, was lowered from about 52 percent in 2011 in China to about 30 percent last year, he said.
In comparison, the proportion of cases in the United States is 44 percent and in India, 48 percent, Xiao said.
"The control of bacterial drug resistance and rational use of antibiotics is an arduous task that requires long-term efforts, and it requires multi-department cooperation," he said. "China will continue international cooperation in the control of the drug resistance of bacteria, and will share its experience."
In August 2016, 14 of China's central government departments, including the National Health and Family Planning Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture, jointly released a national plan on checking bacterial drug resistance.
The departments are working together to promote the proper use of antibiotics for humans and farm animals to check the development and spread of bacteria that become resistant to drugs, the plan said.
"This is a very comprehensive plan and its full, urgent implementation is now required," the World Health Organization's China Office said in a statement. "As half of all antibiotic use in China is by the agriculture and livestock industries, enhanced cooperation between the National Health and Family Planning Commission and Ministry of Agriculture will be critical to successfully addressing antimicrobial resistance in China."
"China is the world's largest producer and user of antibiotics. Any effort to address (antimicrobial resistance) must concentrate on China," it said.