Antibiotic resistance in people and animals may push millions into poverty: World Bank
'We cannot afford to lose the gains in the last century brought about by the antibiotic era'
By 2050, annual global GDP would fall by at least 1.1 per cent, although the loss could be as much as 3.8 per cent — the equivalent of the 2008 financial crisis — the Bank said in a report released ahead of a high-level meeting on the issue at the United Nations in New York this week.
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"We cannot afford to lose the gains in the last century brought about by the antibiotic era," Tim Evans, the World Bank's senior director for health, nutrition and population, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Greater quantities of antibiotics are used in farming than for treating people, and much of this is for promoting animal growth rather than treating sick animals, economist Jim O'Neill said in a report in May commissioned by the British government.
Livestock declines projected
Farmers too will be greatly affected. The bank estimates that by 2050, global livestock production could fall by between 2.6 per cent and 7.5 per cent a year, if the problem of drug resistant superbugs is not curbed.
Improved disease surveillance, diagnostic laboratories to ensure a disease is identified quickly, inspections of farms and slaughterhouses, training of vets, and oversight over the use of antibiotics are also needed, he said.
One of the most important ways to curb the spread of drug resistant microbes in food is to promote good farming practices, said Juan Lubroth, chief veterinary officer of FAO.
Public demand for food that is uncontaminated, and better training of health professionals — doctors and vets — are also vital to help contain the problem, he added.
The World Bank estimates that an investment of some $9 billion US a year is needed in veterinary and human health to tackle the issue.