APOCALYPSE OF SUPERBUGS WILL KILL 10M A YEAR
Chief doc’s fear of resistant diseases
SUPERBUGS will kill 10 million people a year and spark a “post-antibiotic apocalypse” without immediate action, experts warn today.
Chief Medical Officer Prof Dame Sally Davies, will gravely say she fears “the end of modern medicine”.
She and Foreign Minister Alistair Burt called for a global effort to tackle the rise of drug-resistant diseases and provide better education for patients and GPS over antibiotic overuse.
Dame Sally said: “We really are facing, if we don’t take action now, a dreadful post-antibiotic apocalypse. I don’t want to say to my children that I didn’t do my best to protect them and their children.”
About 700,000 people worldwide die annually due to drug-resistant infections like HIV, TB and malaria. Without action, this could rise to 10 million by 2050. Surgery and cancer treatments would become highly risky and transplants “a thing of the past” if antibiotics lose their effectiveness, Dame Sally said.
Today the Government will lead a meeting of global health chiefs in Berlin and announce a new project to map the spread of death from superbugs. Speaking ahead of the summit, Dame Sally warned: “This antimicrobial resistance is with us now, killing people. It does not have a ‘face’ because most people who die of drug-resistant infections, their families just think they died of an uncontrolled infection.
“It will only get worse unless we take strong action everywhere across the globe. We need some real work on the ground to make a difference or we risk the end of modern medicine.”
Dame Sally, Britain’s most senior doctor, urged the world to follow the UK and reduce use of antibiotics. She said up to 33% of prescriptions were probably not needed. Last month the World Health Organisation warned antibiotics were “running out” as a report found a “serious lack” of new drugs in development.
The project to map the spread of superbugs is a collaboration between the Government, charity the Wellcome Trust and others. Mr Burt said: “The UK is not content to sit back and let this turn into a catastrophe.”
HIV Closeup of the virus
MALARIA Some strains are drug resistant
TB Tuberculosis bacteria