The United Nations (UN) Ad hoc Inter-agency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG) on Monday explained why drug-resistant diseases can cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050.
The group said in a report submitted to the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, titled “No Time To Wait: Securing the Future from Drug-Resistant Infections”, that urgent action needed to be taken to stop drug-resistant diseases from causing such number of deaths by 2050.
In the report published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on its website on April 29, the group, made up of the UN, international agencies and experts demanded immediate, coordinated, and ambitious action “to avert a potentially disastrous drug-resistant crisis looming globally”.
“Currently, at least 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases including 230,000 people, who die from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
“More and more common diseases, including respiratory tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, and urinary tract infections, are un-treatable.
“Lifesaving medical procedures are becoming much riskier and our food systems are increasingly precarious.
“If no action is taken, drug-resistant diseases can cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and cause damage to the economy as catastrophic as the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.
“By 2030, antimicrobial resistance can also force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty.
“The world is already feeling the economic and health consequences as crucial medicines become ineffective.
“Without investment from countries in all income brackets, future generations will face the disastrous impacts of uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance,” the group said.
The group, therefore, called for a coordinated multi-sectoral “One Health” approach recognizing that human, animal, food, and environmental health were closely interconnected.
It also called on countries to immediately prioritize national action plans to scale-up financing and capacity-building efforts.
It underscored the need for countries to put in place stronger regulatory systems and support awareness programmes for responsible and prudent use of anti-microbials by professionals in human, animal, and plant health.
The group further urged countries to invest in ambitious research and development for new technologies to combat anti-microbial resistance and immediately urgently phase out the use of critically important anti-microbials as growth promoters in agriculture.
The coordinating group also said that the aforementioned recommendations required immediate engagement across sectors, governments, the private sector, civil society, and the academia.
Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General and Co-Chair of the IACG, said that the world had reached a critical point in the fight to protect some of the most essential medicines.
He gave an assurance that the report made concrete recommendations that could save thousands of lives every year.
Convened at the request of world leaders after the first ever UN High-Level Meeting on Anti-microbial Resistance in 2016, the group brought together partners across the UN and international organisations.
It also brought together individuals with expertise across human, animal, and plant health, as well as the food, animal feed, trade, development, and environment sectors.
The IACG’s mandate is to provide practical guidance for approaches needed to ensure sustained effective global action to address antimicrobial resistance and report back to the UN Secretary-General in 2019.
Some members of the group include: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and WHO.