How to stop antibiotic resistance threatening global growth

This article is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate.

Pharmaceutical tablets and capsules in foil strips are arranged on a table in this picture illustration taken in Ljubljana September 18, 2013. Picture taken September 18. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic (SLOVENIA - Tags: HEALTH) - RTX15K29

weforum – November marked a setback in the fight against drug-resistant infections. Scientists announced that they had found bacteria that were resistant to colistin, known as an antibiotic of last resort. Even more alarming, they discovered that the gene providing the resistance could migrate from one strain of bacteria to another, meaning other types of infections could also become untreatable. The announcement prompted public health experts to renew their warnings that the world risks slipping into a deadly, post-antibiotic era.

But November also brought some good news – even if it received less notice. When the G-20 met in Antalya, the leaders of the world’s largest economies agreed that antimicrobial resistance was a threat to global growth. Buried in the last paragraph of the communiqué issued at the conclusion of the summit was an agreement to put the issue on the agenda of the organization’s next meeting. “We agree that attention should be given to global health risks, such as antimicrobial resistance, infectious disease threats, and weak health systems,” read the communiqué. “These can significantly impact growth and stability.”

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