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The war against superbugs intensifies

06 January 2015 Margaret Labban, Ph.D.

The serious public health threat of microbial resistance is not breaking news, however global efforts to mitigate the impact of this catastrophic yet potentially avoidable situation have notably picked up recently. US President Barack Obama issued an executive order and national strategy to combat antibiotic resistance in September 2014, almost exactly a year after the UK government published its "Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy".

The World Health Organisation's first surveillance report released in April of this year highlights the ongoing struggle with superbugs, and the dire need to address this issue particularly in developing markets in order to avoid reaching a "post-antibiotic era" where simple medical procedures become very high risk, and infections that were once curable become increasingly deadly.

Results from an economic review commissioned by UK Prime Minister David Cameron have also been announced revealing the startling potential consequences of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). By 2050, an estimated 10 million individuals will die from AMR infections every year surpassing cancer as a cause of death, and costing the global economy a cumulative $100 trillion if the AMR epidemic is not addressed.

I sat down to discuss the superbug threat, and if we are to expect more investment towards drugs to tackle infectious diseases moving forward.