REPORT: Drastic Measures Needed To Avert 10 Million Deaths From Superbug Plague

(AFP) – Ten million people could die by 2050 unless sweeping global changes are agreed to tackle increasing resistance to antibiotics, which can turn common ailments into killers, a report warned Thursday.

Commissioned by the British government, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance set out steps to fight the emergence of “superbugs” as infections become immune to existing drugs, allowing minor injuries and common infections to become deadly.

“It needs to be seen as the economic and security threat that it is, and be at the forefront of the minds of heads of state,” wrote Jim O’Neill, the economist who led the review.

The overuse of antibiotics should be reduced by cutting the vast quantities of medicines given to farm animals, improving diagnoses to stop unnecessary prescriptions, and a global public awareness campaign, the paper urged.

At the same time, researchers should be encouraged to develop new antibiotics through a global fund for research and rewards for those who manage to develop new drugs.