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Groundbreaking technological solutions will be important in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, but they will not be enough. To tackle the problem permanently, the only option is to prevent infections from occurring in the first place through improved hygiene, sanitation, and disease surveillance.

LONDON – Combating antimicrobial resistance will require groundbreaking technological solutions. To prevent superbugs from claiming an estimated ten million lives a year by 2050, we will need to invent new types of antimicrobial drugs and develop rapid diagnostic tests to avoid unnecessary treatment and cut our massive overuse of antibiotics.

And yet, as important as these high-tech contributions may be, they are only partial fixes. To tackle the problem permanently, the only option is to prevent infections from occurring in the first place – with improved hygiene, sanitation, and disease surveillance. Indeed, only by focusing on these areas will we lower the demand for new drugs over the long term.

Indeed, in the nineteenth century, long before modern drugs were available, major Western cities tackled diseases by seeking to prevent infections. And this approach remains the best solution for large cities with growing populations.

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