Drug-resistant bacteria will kill every 3 seconds or take away about 10 million lives every year by 2050, according to a report by the Review of Antimicrobial Resistance.
The said rate will cost a global loss of $100 trillion if the risk of drug-resistant infection is not mitigated now, adds the UK government-commissioned group.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) renders antibiotics and other medicines ineffective on bacteria, fungi and other pathogens. Such a condition has turned into one of the biggest hazards of modern medicine, making surgical and medical procedures more dangerous to perform.
Tackling AMR does not only involve the medical field. Governments, lawmakers and economists must also take part because the issue has become a global problem. Pathogens can spread freely from one country to another, and the chain of AMR may persist anywhere, thus, international collaboration then is key to contain and control it.
Two of the most important steps to address the issue is to alleviate the supply and demand problem surrounding AMR and increasing the number of effective antibiotics in the world.
Supply vs. Demand
The supply of new drugs cannot keep up with the rise of people developing drug resistance to older medicines. Aside from that, the management of this conflict in supply in demand has been poorly handled. For example, large amounts of antibiotics are being used in people and animals even if they do not need them, while those who truly require such medicines do not have access.
The solution is to make basic changes in the way antibiotics are prescribed by doctors and taken by patients. Such strategy will maintain the usefulness of current products and reduce the desperate need to make new ones.
"Although AMR is a massive challenge, it is one that I believe is well within our ability to tackle effectively," says Jack O'Neill, head of Review AMR.
First on the list is to initiate a global campaign to raise awareness about AMR. In this way, patients would stop demanding for medicines they do not need, doctors and veterinarians would be more keen on prescribing drugs, and lawmakers would be pushed to forward AMR laws.
The report also suggests improving hygienic practices to stop infection in the first place. Other preventive methods include developing quick infection diagnostic methods and vaccines.
In the agricultural sector, it would be best to limit the use of antimicrobials only when highly needed.
Effectively and promptly determining AMR and antibiotic consumption may also improve the situation in both humans and animals. In infection control, surveillance is considered to be a foundation for management, yet it has been ignored and weakly supported.
The complete report (PDF) is available in the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance website.