Superbugs could kill up to 90000 in three decades

Henrietta Strickland
November 9, 2018

Superbugs resistant to antibiotics will kill 2.4m people in Europe, Australia, and North America by 2050 if preventative measures aren't taken now.

Resistance to second and third-line antibiotics - which presents the most advanced and effective line of defence to prevent infections - is expected to be 70 percent higher in 2030, compared to AMR rates in 2005 for the same antibiotic-bacterium combinations, while resistance to third-line treatments will double in European Union countries.

That claim is backed up by the World Health Organisation, which says that unless something is done a post-antibiotic era could arrive this century whereby basic healthcare could become life-threatening due to the risk of infection during recent operations.

A short-term investment would save money in the long run, they added, saying that dealing with antimicrobial resistance complications could cost up to $3.5bn each year on average across the 33 countries included in the analysis.

Three out of four deaths could be averted by spending just $2 (€1.75) per person a year, the OECD calculated.

Tim Jinks, head of the Wellcome Trust's drug-resistant infections priority programme, said: "This new OECD report offers important insight into how simple, cost-effective surveillance, prevention and control methods could save lives globally".

"These bacteria are more expensive than the flu, hiv / aids, tuberculosis (tb). And it will cost even more if countries don't put into place actions to tackle this problem", he said.

The report proposes promoting better hygiene, ending over-prescription of antibiotics, rapidly testing patients to ensure they receive the right drugs, delaying antibiotic prescriptions and educating people through mass media campaigns.

"Drug-resistant superbugs are on the rise worldwide and represent a fundamental threat to global health and development".

Across the OECD, resistance to second and third-line antibiotics - normally powerful drugs that present a last line of defense against infections - is expected to be 70 percent higher in 2030 compared to AMR rates in 2005. Furthermore, in countries that are not members of OECD, such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Russian Federation, resistance levels are notably higher and rate of AMR growth is forecasted to be four to seven times higher than that of OECD member countries between now and 2050.

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