Drug-resistant infections are about to go down!
The 193 countries of the United Nations (UN) are poised to sign a “landmark” UN declaration and commit more than £600 million to fighting what has been termed “our biggest global health threat”.
The UN declaration towards drug-resistant infections also called superbugs is a big deal, so big that it has been six years in the making. According to health experts, the international commitment could actually prevent up to 700,000 deaths a year.
This year’s meeting will make it only the fourth time that the UN has had a UN declaration on a health issue. The initial three cases where a declaration was inked include; for HIV in 2001, for non-communicable diseases in 2011 and for Ebola in 2013. Following the inking of the declaration for drug-resistant infections, the signatories will have two years to report back with an action plan.
The UK has been at the forefront of a campaign to incite global action on superbugs. The country alone has pledged £369m to international antimicrobial resistance (AMR) programs in the past two years.
In signing the declaration, the nations have committed to:
- Developing surveillance and regulatory systems on the use and sales of antimicrobial medicines for humans and animals
- Encouraging innovative ways to develop new antibiotics
- Educating health professionals and raising public awareness on how to prevent drug-resistant infections
The problem of drug-resistant infections has been caused by over-use of antimicrobial medicines for humans, animals and agriculture and experts have warned that without urgent action, simple infections could soon become entirely untreatable with existing drugs.
New and effective treatments need to be found because repeated exposure to the treatments on ground has allowed bacteria and other infections, including HIV and malaria, to learn how to dodge them by mutating and evolving. Failing to find these new treatment routes, as scientists warn, may lead to routine medical procedures such as hip operations and Caesarean sections becoming too dangerous to perform.
The signatories at the United Nations General Assembly in New York have agreed to pool funding, with a figure already at about $790m (£600m). UK’s chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, said:
“Drug-resistant infections are firmly on the global agenda, but now the real work begins…We need governments, the pharmaceutical industry, health professionals and the agricultural sector to follow through on their commitments to save modern medicine.”
If no action is taken despite the UN declaration, it has been estimated that drug-resistant infections will kill 10 million people a year by 2050, a horrifying death toll.