Each year more than 700,000 people across the world die from infections that are resistant to antibiotics.
By 2050 drug-resistant infections will take an estimated 10 million lives per year.
The economic cost of lost global production caused by antimicrobial resistance will amount to approximately $100 trillion between now and 2050 if it is not tackled.
Ireland has a relatively high rate of antimicrobial resistance in human health compared to most European countries, and ranks above the EU average for consumption of antibiotics in the community.
However it is a growing problem in Ireland and one which University College Cork (UCC) is addressing.
International scientists are gathering in Cork this week to discuss the latest developments in tackling this coming plague.
The increasing number of bacterial species resistant to antibiotics is both inevitable and predictable, so with increasing amounts of data we can and must start to plan for the future and to develop new strategies to prevent their spread and alternative therapeutics to treat antimicrobial resistant infections.
“The use of antibiotics in Ireland during the period 2012 to 2016 continued to rise and Ireland, along with Belgium and France, is a higher consumer of antimicrobials relative to other EU countries” said Stephen Byrne, Head of School of Pharmacy, UCC.
“Irish studies have reported the overuse of antimicrobials in primary care, even when clinicians deem their use to be unnecessary, and have reported that clinicians feel pressurised by patients to prescribe antimicrobials," he added.
“The public health message on antibiotics needs to be refined. In addition to minimising unnecessary and inappropriate use, the public needs to know that broad spectrum antibiotics damage beneficial as well as harmful bacteria. Moreover, mobilising the microbiome will have a central role in future strategies against infections” said Fergus Shanahan, Director ofAPC Microbiome Ireland, and Chief Clinical Director of the HSE South/Southwest Hospital Group.