The United Nations (UN) issued a report recently calling attention to the global threat of “superbugs” linked to antimicrobial resistance and urging coordinated preventative action now.
“Superbugs are strains of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that are resistant to most of the antibiotics and other medications commonly used to treat the infections they cause,” according to the Mayo Clinic website.
Examples of illnesses caused by these stronger variants include pneumonia, skin infections, and urinary tract infections.
The UN report stated, “The World Health Organization considers antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans and animals to be one of the top ten threats to global health.”
In 2019, five million deaths were directly or indirectly attributed to drug-resistant infections, and by the year 2050, AMR could be responsible for an estimated 10 million deaths annually.
In addition, AMR could also have an economic impact, resulting in a $3.4 trillion drop annually in the GDP by the year 2030, the report estimated.
Nations affected by poverty, low sanitation, and pollution are most affected by AMR, according to the report, and AMR could push 24 million more people into poverty within the next decade.
The report blamed the growth of superbug resistance on “chemical and biological pollution” from the pharmaceutical, agricultural, healthcare, and municipal sectors. The UN claims that waste produced by these industries contains resistant microorganisms that spread AMR.
“[The] environment plays really a key role in the development, transmission and spread of antimicrobial resistance,” said Jacqueline Alvarez, chief of UNEP’s Chemicals and Health Branch, according to ABC News.
The UN report urges that governments around the world take preventative action now to combat AMR.
“Prevention is at the core of the action and environment is a key part of the solution,” said the authors of the UN report. The authors suggested that governments should regulate the use of antimicrobials on farms, the discharge of wastewater from pharmaceutical companies, and improve the management of wastewater and sanitation practices.
It appears that some farmers see the benefits of such counteractive measures.
The National Library of Medicine detailed research on the factors associated with the use of antimicrobials on farms in 2021. This study noted that some farmers supported a decreased reliance on antimicrobials due to the prospect of that initiative lowering veterinary costs, maximizing profits, and improving consumer confidence.
Tackling the problem of AMR will require an “all-hands on deck” approach involving “government, civil society, international organizations, and the private sector,” the report suggests.
It describes this united effort as a comprehensive approach that maintains that “the health of people, animals, plants, and the environment are interdependent.”
Researchers have even suggested that superbugs could be a possible avenue for the spread of obesity — one of the biggest problems facing the nation — by creating an imbalance of microbes found in the gut, according to Science Alert.
Good luck getting this profit driven world to stop using antibiotics in meat production or the pharmaceutical industry. Scientists have been warning about this possibility for years.
The World Health Organization is the greatest threat to world health.