A new report coming from United Kingdom is calling for a global revolution in the way we use antibiotics.
The report laid out a plan to halt the advance of “superbugs” – or microbes that have developed a resistance to antibiotics. The UK report said the continued proliferation of superbugs would cast medicine “back into the dark ages.”
The UK plan for dealing superbugs called for a number of initiatives, including a global fund for antibiotic research and paying drug companies for discovering new drugs.
Is this plan enough?
While some public health groups praised the plan, others criticized it by saying it didn’t go far enough.
Based on eight previous studies, the new report made an urgent call for a substantial global awareness marketing campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with antibiotics overuse. The plan also called for a $2 billion Global Innovation Fund and $1 billion award for every new antibiotic created.
The UK plan also called for the promotion of vaccines as alternatives to antibiotic drugs, better access to clean water, increase monitoring of superbug proliferation, better sanitation and cleaner hospitals to keep infections proliferating. The report called for a ban on unnecessary antibiotic use in agriculture, including a prohibition on antibiotics deemed “highly critical.”
“We need to inform in different ways, all over the world, why it’s crucial we stop treating our antibiotics like sweets,” Jim O’Neill, an economist from Manchester University who led the global review, said according to the BBC. “If we don’t solve the problem we are heading to the dark ages, we will have a lot of people dying.
“We have made some pretty challenging recommendations which require everybody to get out of the comfort zone, because if we don’t then we aren’t going to be able to solve this problem,” he added.
Grania Brigden, from Doctors Without Borders, said the plan didn’t go far enough.
“The O’Neill report proposes considerable new funding to overcome the failures of pharmaceutical research and development, but the proposals do not necessarily ensure access to either existing tools or emerging new products,” Brigden said. “Instead, in some cases, the report’s solution is simply to subsidize higher prices rather than trying to overcome them.”