U.N. nod to fight against drug-resistant microbes

Sep 21, 2016, 4:57 AM EDT
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (M.R.S.A.)
(Source: NIAID/flickr)

In a major step to address what has been described as “the biggest threat to modern medicine,” all 193 member states of the United Nations are set to sign a declaration on Wednesday, agreeing to fight against antibiotic resistance. Under the agreement, the member states will commit to exercise greater control over the drug market, spread awareness about the problem and promote research in alternative treatments.

Drug resistance, which accounts for more than 700,000 deaths each year, is just the fourth health issue to trigger a general assembly meeting, writes The Guardian. Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, hailed the U.N. for responding to the health issue before it gets out of control.

Thirteen leading pharmaceutical companies, including the likes of Pfizer and Novartis, have also signed the declaration, committing to work with independent experts, who will overhaul the factory supply chains and standards to tackle the threat, reports Deutsche Welle.

Keiji Fukuda, a senior W.H.O. official, who described drug-resistant microbes as a “big societal threat,” said he hoped that the U.N. meeting would draw public funding. According to a recent British study, antibiotic-resistant superbugs could claim 10 million lives every year by 2050.