Discovery of Antibiotics
When they were discovered, antibiotics completely changed the face of healthcare. Many of the great achievements of the last century would not have been possible without them. Unfortunately, bacteria has constantly evolved to resist new drugs. The last decade has seen the pace of new antibiotic discoveries slow significantly, and this has allowed the pathogens to catch up. Coupled with the overuse of antibiotics there is now an urgent need to find a way to control the bugs that cause so much disease.
The number of infections becoming resistant to existing medicine is growing rapidly across the globe, causing half a million deaths annually worldwide.
“We have reached a critical point and must act now on a global scale to slow down antimicrobial resistance” says Professor Dame Sally Davies, UK Chief Medical Officer.
Scientists are battling to discover new medicines to combat this worrying problem. They have found that drug resistant E. coli, malaria and tuberculosis will have cause the most damage. The Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron had the following to say:
“If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine”.
December 2014 saw the first paper of the Antimicrobial Resistance Review Published. David Cameron has commissioned Jim O’Neill to chair this review which aims to ‘tackle the crisis’ of superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics. O’Neill has been quoted thus:
“Drug-resistant infections already kill hundreds of thousands a year globally, and by 2050 that figure could be more than 10 million. The economic cost will also be significant, with the world economy being hit by up to $100 trillion by 2050 if we do not take action.”
Drug resistant infections are currently linked to around 700,000 deaths per year. An increase as suggested there by O’Neill would be a higher rate of mortality than cancer as per present figures.
Cost to Economy
The death toll could exceed 10 million each year by 2050 and the financial cost to the world has been estimated at over 100 trillion USD in lost output. This is based on loss of life and ill-health preventing in people from working. Countries such as Nigeria and India could be hit particularly hard. This problem is more than simply medical therefore, it will also have terrible implication on an economic and social level.
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