Top medic’s dire warning on overuse of antibiotics
World leaders urged to act as drug-resistant infections pose risk to modern medicine
England’s chief medical officer has warned of a “post-antibiotic apocalypse” as she issued a call to action urging global leaders to address the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.
Professor Dame Sally Davies said that if antibiotics lose their effectiveness it will spell “the end of modern medicine”.
Without the drugs used to fight infections, common medical interventions such as caesarean sections, cancer treatments and hip replacements would become incredibly “risky”, she said.
And transplant medicine would be a “thing of the past”, she added.
“We really are facing, if we don’t take action now, a dreadful post-antibiotic apocalypse,” she told the Press Association.
“I don’t want to say to my children that I didn’t do my best to protect them and their children.”
Health experts have previously warned that resistance to antimicrobial drugs could cause a bigger threat to mankind than cancer.
In recent years, the UK has led a drive to raise global awareness of the threat posed to modern medicine by antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Around 700,000 people around the world die annually due to drug-resistant infections including tuberculosis (TB), HIV and malaria.
If no action is taken, it has been estimated that drug-resistant infections will kill 10 million people a year by 2050.
Dame Sally said that because AMR is “hidden”, people “just let it pass”.
The comments come as the UK Government and the Wellcome Trust, along with others, have organised a “call to action” meeting for health officials from around the globe.
At the meeting in Berlin, the Government will also announce a new project which will map the spread of death and disease caused by drug-resistant “superbugs”.
Dame Sally said: “This is a serious issue that is with us now, causing deaths.
“It does not really 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 warned that if the global community did not act then progress made in Britain may be “undermined”.
She added: “We use more than I would like and we estimate that about one in three or one in four prescriptions in primary care are probably not needed.
“But other countries use vastly more antibiotics in the community and they need to start doing as we are, which is reducing usage.”
The new project to map the spread of superbugs is a collaboration between the UK Government, Wellcome Trust, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oxford University and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Professor Dame Sally Davies is warning that the world faces a “post-antibiotic apocalypse” unless urgent action is taken to address the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.