PARIS: Millions of people in Europe, North America and Australia are dying of superbug infections unless countries are in the lead in fighting the growing threat of bacteria against the most famous drugs, experts predicted on Wednesday.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned of "catastrophic consequences" for public health and expenditure unless improved basic hygiene and unnecessary use of antibiotics has diminished.
Drug-resistant bacteria killed more than 33,000 people in Europe in 2015, according to which a new study will be published separately this week.
According to the OECD Geographic Report, the OECD estimates that 2.4 million people die from over-2050s and said that the cost of such infections would fall to an average of $ 3.5 billion (€ 3 billion) per year for each country included in its analysis.
Michele Cecchini, head of OECD Public Health, told AFP that the countries have already spent on average 10 percent of their health care budget for antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bugs.
"AMR costs more than a flu, more than HIV, more than tuberculosis, and it costs even more if countries do not take action to solve this problem," he said.
A huge death toll
As people are increasingly consuming antibiotics – either using prescription drugs or using agricultural products and animal products to remove infections – develop bacterial strains that are resistant to medicines that are supposed to kill them.
In low and middle income countries, resistance is already high: in Indonesia, Brazil and Russia, up to 60% of bacterial infections are already resistant to at least one antibiotic.
AMR infections are projected to be 4 to 7 times faster by 2030 than they are today.
"Such high levels of resistance to health care systems that are already weakened by limited budgets create the prerequisites for massive deaths that are mainly threatened by newborn, very small children and the elderly," the report says.
"Even small cuts in the kitchen, minor cuts or diseases, such as pneumonia, can be life-threatening."
Perhaps more worrying is the prediction of the OECD that resistance to so- 2 and 3 lines – an explosive glass case in case of emergency – 70% balloon by 2030.
"These are antibiotics that we do not want to use as much as we want them backed up," Cecchini said.
"We mainly use more when we use less, and we're going to the best options in an emergency."
To avoid catastrophe
A group announcing the World Health Organization's public health initiatives said that the only way to prevent the disaster was to take immediate, sectoral behavioral changes.
The report called on healthcare professionals to ensure better standards of general medicine in hospitals and clinics, requiring all workers to wash their hands and adhere to more stringent security systems.
It also suggested that resistance could be better and faster by testing for whether the infection is a virus – or antibiotics are useless – or bacteria.
New swab tests can give a result in a matter of minutes, and Cecchini also put forward the idea of "delayed prescriptions" due to antibiotic overexpression of dental medicines by making patients wait three days before picking up antibiotics – about the time it takes for viral infection to undergo this course.
In technical trials, two-thirds of the delayed antibiotic medicines never collected the drug.
The OECD noted that such changes would only cost $ 2 per person per year and save millions of lives and billions of dollars by mid-century.
"They would reduce AMR's costs in these countries by 75%," said Cecchini. "It would cost itself in a matter of months and generate significant savings."