Su­per­bugs may spark fi­nan­cial cri­sis

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

THE spread of su­per­bugs re­sis­tant to all known drug treat­ments could spark a global fi­nan­cial cri­sis on the level of the 2008 melt­down or worse, a World Bank-led study warned.

An­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance is on the rise and, in the fu­ture, many in­fec­tious dis­eases will once again be un­treat­able, forc­ing more peo­ple into poverty and cost­ing na­tions dearly.

One re­cent re­view of the scope of the prob­lem pegged the to­tal cost at US$100 tril­lion glob­ally by 2050.

The planet’s poor­est peo­ple and coun­tries can ex­pect to be hit hard­est, said the lat­est re­port by the World Bank Group, which looked ahead to the years 2017-2050.

The dam­age could be equal to or even worse than the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis, it said.

“We now know that – un­less ad­dressed swiftly and se­ri­ously and on a sus­tained ba­sis – the grow­ing global prob­lem of an­tibi­otic re­sis­tance will be dis­as­trous for hu­man and an­i­mal health, food pro­duc­tion and global economies,” said Mar­garet Chan, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO).

“The fact that, left unchecked, it would pe­nalise the poor more than any­one, makes clear why this needs to be ad­dressed as a crit­i­cal is­sue for de­vel­op­ment.”

The re­port, called “Drug Re­sis­tant In­fec­tions: A Threat to Our Eco­nomic Fu­ture”, looks at what will hap­pen when an­tibi­otics and other an­timi­cro­bial drugs no longer treat in­fec­tions the way they are sup­posed to.

The spread of ill­ness would push up to 28 mil­lion peo­ple – most of them in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries – into ex­treme poverty by 2050, it found.

“Cur­rently, the world is broadly on track to elim­i­nate ex­treme poverty (at $1.90/day) by 2030, reach­ing close to the tar­get of less than 3 per­cent of peo­ple liv­ing in ex­treme poverty,” said the re­port.

“An­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance risks putting this tar­get out of reach.”

Fur­ther­more, low-in­come coun­tries could lose more than 5pc of their GDP by 2050, it said.

The world’s vol­ume of ex­ports could shrink by up to 3.8pc by 2050, ac­cord­ing to the pro­jec­tions.

“Global in­creases in health­care costs may range from $300 bil­lion to more than $1 tril­lion per year by 2050,” it added.

The prob­lem would also cut into live­stock pro­duc­tion, which would de­cline from 2.6pc to 7.5pc per year.

There is no easy an­swer to the prob­lem of an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance, and there­fore the cri­sis would likely per­sist, and not end with a cycli­cal re­cov­ery as other fi­nan­cial crises have in the past.

A day-long spe­cial ses­sion on the prob­lem of an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance has been sched­uled dur­ing the on­go­ing UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly in New York this week.

“The scale and na­ture of this eco­nomic threat could wipe out hard­fought de­vel­op­ment gains and take us away from our goals of end­ing ex­treme poverty and boost­ing shared pros­per­ity,” said Jim Yong Kim, pres­i­dent of the World Bank Group.

“The cost of in­ac­tion is un­af­ford­able – es­pe­cially for the poor­est coun­tries. We must ur­gently change course to avert this po­ten­tial cri­sis.” –

Photo: AFP

Jim Yong Kim says the cost of in­ac­tion is un­af­ford­able.

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