Superbugs could kill one person every three seconds by 2050, the equivalent of 10 million people a year, according to the final report last week from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, established in 2014 to keep the world from being “cast back into the dark ages of medicine.”
The authors highlight the increasing burden of resistance and call for greater awareness of the problem, including the need for public campaigns beginning as soon as this summer.
The impact of superbugs
Superbugs are bacteria that are resistant to the antimicrobial drugs typically used to kill them. They are estimated to cause 700,000 deaths every year.
If no action is taken, these numbers are expected to rise dramatically, causing more deaths than cancer by 2050. This would mean common procedures such as giving birth, treating wounds and undergoing surgery could become fatal due to a lack of effective antibiotics.
But experts, including review Chairman Lord Jim O’Neill, believe that a solution is within grasp if certain actions are taken. “[My review] sets out a workable blueprint for bold, global action to tackle this challenge,” O’Neill said.
Several causes underlying the emergence of resistance have been highlighted in the report, along with 10 areas in which to take action, including a massive global awareness campaign to reduce demand for, and prescription of, antibiotics, better global surveillance of resistance, funds for more research into new antimicrobials, and building a global coalition through the G20 and United Nations.