LONDON, (Reuters) – Stopping deadly, drug-resistant "superbug" infections that kill millions of people around the world could cost just $ 2 per person per year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation said Development (OECD) Wednesday.
The OECD described drug resistance as "one of the biggest threats to modern medicine", but said that if nothing is done, superbugs in the next 30 years alone will see 2.4 million people in Europe, North America and Australia could kill.
The problem of contagious bugs that become resistant to drugs has been a hallmark of medicine since the discovery of the first antibiotic, penicillin, in 1928. Often this is called antimicrobial resistance or AMR. The problem has increased in recent years because insects are resistant to multiple drugs. and medicine makers have reduced their investments in this area.
The World Health Organization has warned that, unless something drastic happens, a post-antibiotic era – where basic health care becomes life-threatening because of the risk of infection during routine operations – could come this century.
A 2014-based report from the British government estimated that the problem could kill 10 million extra people annually in 2050 and cost up to $ 100 trillion if it was not brought under control.
In a report, the OECD said: "A short-term investment to curb the miraculous tide would save lives and money."
It proposed a "five-point attack" on AMR, including promoting better hygiene, stopping prescribing antibiotics, quickly testing patients to ensure they get the right medication for infections, delaying antibiotic prescriptions and delivering mass media campaigns.
The report found a number of reasons for cautious optimism, with the average growth of drug resistance in the OECD slowing, but there were "serious concerns".
Across the OECD, resistance to second and third line antibiotics, usually potent drugs that offer a final line of defense against infections, is expected to be 70 percent higher by 2030 compared to AMR percentages in 2005.
In countries with low and medium incomes, drug resistance is high and is expected to grow rapidly. In Brazil, Indonesia and Russia, for example, between 40 and 60 percent of infections are resistant to drugs, compared with an OECD average of 17 percent, and AMR percentages are expected to grow 4-7 times faster than the OECD average. average between now and 2050.
Tim Jinks, an expert in drug resistance at the global charity Wellcome Trust, said the OECD report showed "how simple, cost-effective methods for monitoring, prevention and control can save lives".
Superbugs are "a fundamental threat to global health and development", he said, and "investing to address the problem will save lives and deliver great results in the future."
Edited by Marie-Louise Gumuchian