Superbugs will kill someone every three seconds by 2050 unless the world acts now, experts warn.
Over-prescription is leading to the rise of antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ that could pose a bigger risk to peoples’ health than cancer.
A global review, published by Lord Jim O’Neill, sets out a plan to defeat the rise of superbugs and for preventing medicine ‘being cast back into the dark ages’ that will cost billions of dollars in investment. It also calls to revolutionise the way antibiotics are used and a massive campaign to educate people, the BBC reports.
Lord O’Neill said tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is absolutely essential.
The battle against antibiotic-resistant infections is one we are losing quickly, and one that has been described ‘as big a risk as terrorism’. The main issue is that we are not developing enough new antibiotics and are wasting the ones we currently have.
Since the 2014 Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, more than one million people have died from these infections. And in a shocking development, doctors have discovered bacteria that can be immune to the last resort drug – colistin – leading to warnings that the world is on the cusp of a ‘post-antibiotic era’.
Prof Mark Wilcox, from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, told the BBC: “The transfer rate of this resistance gene is ridiculously high, that doesn’t look good.”
And the situation will only get worse – 10 million people have been predicted to die every year from resistant infections by 2050, with the financial cost to economies of drug resistance adding up to $100 trillion (£70 trillion).
Lord O’Neill, chair of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, has said antibiotics are treated ‘like sweets’ and has called on governments across the world’s richest countries to order that by 2020, antibiotics can only be prescribed after a rapid diagnostic test.
Lord O’Neill told the BBC:
We need to inform in different ways, all over the world, why it’s crucial we stop treating our antibiotics like sweets.
If we don’t solve the problem we are heading to the dark ages, we will have a lot of people dying.
We have made some pretty challenging recommendations which require everybody to get out of the comfort zone, because if we don’t then we aren’t going to be able to solve this problem.
If we don’t want to be cast back into the medical dark ages, it’s a problem that needs to be solved immediately.