antibiotics David Poller/ZumaPress

Squashing the Superbugs

Current antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective, raising the risk that infections like malaria and tuberculosis could become incurable. With the G-7 leaders having committed to tackle antimicrobial resistance, it is time for the more inclusive G-20 – and especially China – to take the fight to the next level.

LONDON – Current antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective, not only at fighting common illnesses like pneumonia and urinary tract infections, but also at treating a range of infections, such as tuberculosis and malaria, which now risk again becoming incurable. With the G-7 leaders having committed, in a recent joint declaration, to tackle “antimicrobial resistance” (AMR), it is time for the more inclusive G-20 – and China, as it chairs the group for the first time – to take the fight to the next level.

Failure to address AMR will affect everyone, regardless of their nationality or their country’s level of development. Indeed, by 2050, ten million people could be dying as a result of AMR, up from around 700,000 today, with China and India each housing about one million sufferers. At that point, an estimated $100 trillion in global GDP will already have been lost.

No G-7 strategy, however well crafted, can succeed without the involvement of the rest of the international community. After all, if infections travel with the people who carry them, so does resistance, meaning that the only solution to AMR is a shared one. That is why members of the World Health Organization have agreed to implement a “global action plan on AMR,” and have called upon the United Nations to convene a high-level meeting of political leaders in 2016.

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