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Turning AMR Words Into Action

Owing to the massive threat that it poses to world health and the economy, antimicrobial resistance has finally started to receive the attention it deserves. But awareness is only the first step; to solve the problem, governments, drug makers, and health-care professionals will have to start taking more concrete action.

LONDON – It was Antibiotic Awareness Week earlier this month, and, as Chair of the UK government’s Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) under Prime Minister David Cameron, I participated in a number of events to draw attention to this important public-health issue.

The Review showed that even as the world runs out of effective antibiotics, we are overusing those that still work. If we do not rein in these excesses and develop new effective drugs quickly, there could be ten million people dying from AMR-related illnesses every year by 2050 – up from 700,000 today. The total cost to global GDP between now and then will have been $100 trillion.

At the Science Museum in London, I spoke ahead of the launch of the new exhibition “Superbugs: The Fight for our Lives,” which will last for the next 15 months. The exhibition is a good example of the increased attention AMR is receiving. The organizers expect around 1.5 million people to see it, but I challenged them to aim for six million – about 10% of the United Kingdom’s population.

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