Fear of a massive increase in the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria has again hit the headlines. A study by research groups Rand Europe, and KPMG auditors. And analysed by economist Jim O’Neill, on behalf of the UK government; maintains by 2050, an extra 10 million people per annum will die from diseases caused by drug resistant micro-organisms worldwide.
Concern over the rise of superbugs is nothing new. The development of drug resistant bacteria, are regularly blamed on everything from misuse of antibiotics, to household antimicrobial cleaning aids. Thirty years ago these same concerns were being voiced, in those days because of the misuse of antibiotics.
New antibiotics were developed, and concern subsided for a time. Until that is, these new drugs started to become less effective. Now it is becoming more, and more, difficult for scientists to develop a range of antibiotics capable of dealing with these new superbugs.
This latest study though, makes for some grim reading. It’s little wonder that governments are becoming increasingly alarmed about the situation.
Not only does this study highlight the increasing number of deaths, but also the financial implications on the world as a whole. Currently it is estimated some 700,000 deaths a year are caused by superbugs, primarily, e-coli, malaria and tuberculosis. Should these new estimates ever come close to reality, it’s estimated the worldwide cost could top $100tn (65tn GBP). Considering the annual GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the UK is a mere 3tn GBP, it puts the cost more into perspective.
Mention malaria and tuberculosis, and people sit back. Well, it won’t affect us, places like India, Africa and areas of South America are the malarial areas. Tuberculosis, although in many global regions, is most prevalent in South East Asia and the Western Pacific. Africa is a country which has seen a substantial rise in TB in the last couple of years.
There are steps we as the end user can do to help alleviate this growing problem. Stop using anti-bacterial cleaning aids. Revert back to hot soapy water for cleaning down work surfaces, bathrooms, and tiled walls and floors.
Business, as they say is business, and the thousands of anti-bacterial cleaning products on sale in every superstore and corner shop are not going to disappear overnight. Large, government funded education programmes; put in easily understandable language to explain why people should refrain from the use of these cleaning products, is what is required. Explaining the pros and cons during school science and biology lessons would be a good start. Catch them early, as they say.
Figures show the United States, and Europe currently have over 50,000 deaths, caused by antimicrobial resistance, every year. Most of these deaths are attributed to resistance to antibiotic treatments. Should this trend continue, by 2050, that figure may well reach 500,000 deaths per annum. Maybe it’s all a bit closer to home than we thought.
A British expat who has lived on this Island of Tenerife for over twelve years.A full time freelance writer, most of my time is spent article writing. I also write on D2C, Writedge, and wherever takes my fancy. For fun I try to increase my portfolio of short stories, with a view to eventually getting them published.