Resistance to antibiotics is one of the most worrying global concerns at present and is likely to resume human civilization in the pre-antibiotic era at this rate. A new report, entitled Stemming the Superbug Tide, speculated that antibiotic-resistant bugs have the chance to kill over 90,000 Britons over the next three decades, if not now limited.
The main mechanisms by which microorganisms are resistant to antibiotics. Image Credit: Designua / Shutterstock
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report suggests that antibiotic resistance will kill 2.4 million people across Europe, Australia and North America by 2050 if it is not stopped now. Of these, 1.3 million are likely to occur in Europe and 90,000 are predicted in the UK report says. Resistance to antibiotics is described as "one of the greatest threats to modern medicine" in this latest report. Currently, there are 44,000 deaths annually in the UK due to sepsis caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Approximately 17% of all infections in OECD countries are due to antibiotic resistance, the report writes.
The report indicates that there are simple measures to be taken to reduce and slow the progression of antibiotic resistance. This includes handwashing routines, better hygiene and sanitation among health workers. The report recommends the conservative prescription of antibiotics. These suggest that all infections should be tested quickly for the antibiotics to which they are susceptible. This can prevent the emergence of new superbugs and also allow for better healing of the infection first. Empiric antibiotic therapy should be stopped, experts say. The report suggests that antibiotics may be retained within the first three days, during which viral infections tend to decrease. This would also prevent unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions. The report recommends large-scale public awareness campaigns to help people adopt safe antibiotic policies.
The report warns that there is a faster occurrence of antibiotic-resistant germ strains in low-income and medium-income countries compared to developed countries. Many strains have already developed resistance to first-line antibiotics against them. The report adds that in the next decades the bacteria strains would develop resistance to the second and third line of antibiotics, making their infections difficult to treat. Warnings are relevant to countries in South Europe, such as Italy, Greece and Portugal, which are the first nations at risk in OECD countries.
This report is one of the results of a campaign in England against patients who require medication when they are not needed. According to Health England (PHE), antibiotics that are active against serious infections are usually prescribed for minor infections, such as those of the throat, ears, etc., which often improve even without treatment. The main slogan of the campaign was that "antibiotics are not always necessary."
Experts have suggested that making efforts to reduce antibiotic resistance would have a long-term effect and this report proves this. Tim Jinks, head of the Priority Program for Wellcome Trust Medications, explained, for example, that antibiotic resistance is a threat to "global health and development." The OECD report states that increasing antibiotic resistance may greatly increase the cost of health care and that stopping it now would reduce healthcare costs to only $ 2 per person per year. Three out of four deaths could be avoided if measures are taken, the report says.