The United Nations recently released a report on drug resistance, which states that drug-resistant diseases could kill 10 million people a year by 2050. In short, it is becoming untreatable. Drug resistance occurs when antibiotics are overused in the treatment of humans, plants, and animals. New antibiotics can help overcome that problem for a while, but the bacteria’s ability to adapt causes the antibiotic to be less effective gradually.
As of now, 700,000 people around the world die of drug-resistant diseases annually. Common illnesses like STDs and UTIs are becoming much harder to treat. Hospital procedures like C-sections could also become more dangerous to perform as the risk of infection increases. In the past decade, there has been a surge of patients in the United States infected with bacteria that has no effective antibiotic. Drug-resistant superbugs pose a huge threat to not only the health of a country but also its economy.
The good news is this problem can be solved if everyone in high and middle-income countries invests $2 a year to fund the implementation of effective measures and drug research. However, antibiotics take years to develop and biotech companies do not have the financial incentives to produce them. The UN report argued that the solution to the problem is for the government to treat antibiotics as public goods, which is crucial to society and to fund these research programs. Ultimately, more public education and awareness are crucial in bringing this threat to focus.