U.N. warns the world to fight superbugs now or pay dearly later

As bacterial germs continue to mutate and proliferate due to the overuse of antibiotics, an arm of the United Nations is laying out the disturbing numbers in hopes of stirring people to action all around the world.

In a report released April 29, the U.N.’s Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance noted that drug-resistant diseases already cause at least 700,000 deaths globally a year.

In a worst-case scenario, the group said, the casualty count would swell to 10 million by 2050 if no action is taken.

Further, absent a sustained effort to contain antimicrobial resistance, even high-income countries stand to lose 2.4 million people to these seemingly unstoppable microbes between 2015 and 2050.

“In higher-income countries, a package of simple interventions to address antimicrobial resistance could pay for itself due to costs averted,” the report authors wrote. “In lower-income countries, additional but still relatively modest investments are urgently needed.”

Among the specific actions the group recommends is increased investment from public, private and philanthropic donors to develop new antibiotics and other antimicrobials.

They also call for newly targeted diagnostics, vaccines and waste management—and not only for humans but also for plants and animals.

“If investments and action are further delayed,” the authors underscored, “the world will have to pay far more in the future to cope with the disastrous impact of uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance.”

The full report is posted online.