Stopping the increase in deadly drug-resistant "superbug" infections that kill millions all over the world could cost only $ 2 per person a year, said the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD).
Describing drug resistance as "one of the greatest threats to modern medicine", the OECD has stated, however, that if nothing is done, superbugs could kill about 2.4 million people in Europe, North America and Australia alone in the next 30 years.
The problem of infectious insects that become resistant to drugs has been a feature of medicine since the discovery of the first antibiotic, penicillin, in 1928. Often called antimicrobial resistance or AMR, the problem has grown in recent years as insects resistant to multiple drugs they have developed and drug manufacturers have reduced their investments in this field.
The World Health Organization warned that, unless something drastic, it was post-antibiotic – in which basic health care becomes life-threatening due to the risk of infection during routine operations – could come this century.
A review supported by the British government in 2014 estimated that by 2050 the issue could have killed another 10 million people a year and cost up to 100 trillion dollars if it were not under control.
In a report, the OECD declared that "a short-term investment to stem the superb tide would save lives and money".
He proposed a "five-pronged attack" on AMR, including promoting better hygiene, ending the over-prescription of antibiotics, quickly testing patients to make sure they get the right drug for infections, delaying antibiotic prescriptions and carry out mass media campaigns.
The report found some reasons for cautious optimism, with the average growth of slowing drug resistance across the OECD, but added that there were "serious concerns".
In the OECD, second- and third-line antibiotic resistance – normally powerful drugs with a last line of defense against infections – should increase by 70% in 2030 compared to AMR rates of 2005.
In low and middle income countries, drug resistance is high and is expected to grow rapidly. In Brazil, Indonesia and Russia, for example, between 40% and 60% of infections are already resistant to drugs, compared to an OECD average of 17% and AMR rates are expected to grow between 4 and 7 times faster of the OECD average now and 2050.
Tim Jinks, a drug resistance expert at the Wellcome Trust charity, said the OECD report showed "how simple methods of surveillance, prevention and control can save lives".
The superbugs are "a key threat to global health and development," he said, and "investing to tackle the problem will now save lives and bring big profits in the future."
(Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian)
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