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Antibiotic resistant bugs have been described by doctors as potentially a bigger threat to humans than cancer.
The superbug threat: Everything you need to know
Lord Jim O’Neill published a global action plan – commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014 – which sets out a series of measures aiming to tackle the threat:
- Reducing the unnecessary use of antimicrobial drugs in healthcare settings
- Monitoring and reducing superfluous use of the drugs in farming
- Quicker progress to be made on banning or restricting antibiotics that are vital for human health from being used in animals
- Better use of diagnostic tools to help reduce unnecessary use of the drugs
- A global public awareness campaign about the problem of drug resistance
- Increasing the supply of new antibiotic drugs
“Rapid diagnostics would be able to reduce use of antibiotics by letting doctors know if a patient has an infection and if this infection is viral or bacterial, meaning that antibiotics will only be given out to patients who need them,” the report states.
Lord O’Neill, said that antibiotics are treated “like sweets” as he called on governments across the world’s richest countries to mandate that by 2020 antibiotics could only be prescribed following a rapid diagnostic test, wherever one exists.
He said that introducing this mandate will lead to advances in technology and diagnostic tools by opening a new market for them.
Health leaders from around the world have raised serious concerns about the growing resistance to antibiotics.
Lord O’Neill likened the problem to “facing a growing enemy with a largely depleted armoury”.
Without antibiotics, many key medical procedures such as surgeries and chemotherapy could become too dangerous to perform.
Projections suggest that if nothing is done to control the rise of antibiotic resistant bugs, there will be 10 million deaths each year by 2050.
Failure to act will also cost the world over $100 trillion in lost output between 2014 and 2050, the review suggests.
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