Millions to die from superbug infections: report

2.4 million people could die from superbugs by 2050 if urgent action is not taken to stop antimicrobial resistance, says a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 08 November 2018

A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said that millions of people in Europe, North America and Australia will die from superbug infections unless governments took urgent steps to stop one of the biggest threats faced by modern medicine.

The world could be facing disastrous consequences in public healthcare and spending unless hygiene in hospitals was boosted and unnecessary antibiotic use cut down drastically.

In 2015, drug-resistant bacteria killed more than 33,000 in Europe, says a media report. The OECD said 2.4 million people could die from superbugs by 2050 and said the cost of treating such infections would balloon to an average of $3.5 billion (three billion euros) a year in each country.

The report recommends taking simple hygiene measures such as washing one’s hand and prescribing of antibiotics conservatively. Enhancing rapid testing to ensure patients are given appropriate drugs was also recommended.

It is said that due to the increasing consumption of antibiotics -- either through prescriptions or agriculture and livestock products – bacterial strains that resist the effects of drugs designed to kill them are developing rapidly.

The report said that in low and middle-income countries, resistance is already high. In India, the largest consumer of antibiotics, the Antibiotic Growth Promoters (AGP) used in feed are widely available with manufacturers, veterinary medicine dealers, or even sold online. In fact, India is yet to ban non-therapeutic antimicrobials.

In Indonesia, Brazil and Russia, up to 60 per cent of bacterial infections are already resistant to at least one antibiotic, say media reports. Considering the growth of AMR infections is predicted to be between four and seven times faster by 2030 than currently, the report warns that this can create conditions for an enormous death toll that will be mainly borne by new-borns, very young children and the elderly.

It is possible that even small cuts in the kitchen, minor surgery or diseases like pneumonia could become life-threatening, added the report. Worse is the possibility that by 2030, resistance to so-called 2nd- and 3rd-line antibiotics will evade by 70 per cent.

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