Antibiotic-resistant bacteria not only threaten life, but also burden health systems: they can generate up to USD 3.5 billion annual expenses by 2050 in every OECD country, according to a report published on Wednesday, November 7.
"These bacteria are more expensive than the flu, AIDS, tuberculosis, and they will cost even more if states do not take action to solve this problem," said AFP Michele Cechini, public health specialist at AFP. OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).
According to him, countries are already spending an average of 10% of their health budget on the treatment of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
As predicted in the report, which concerns 33 out of 36 OECD countries, resistant bacteria can kill 2.4 million people in Europe, North America and Australia by 2050.
A separate study, published on Monday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, reported 33,000 deaths attributed to these bacteria in 2015 in the European Union.
However, we can fight them with "simple measures" at moderate costs, according to the OECD: "encourage better hygiene" (by encouraging, for example, hand washing), "put an end to an over-prescription for antibiotics" or further generalize rapid diagnostic tests to determine if the infection is viral (in this case, antibiotics are useless) or bacterial.
According to the OECD, these funds would cost only USD 2 per person per year prevent three-quarters of deaths.
"Investments in a large public health program involving some of these funds could be written off in one year and would save $ 4.8 billion a year," says OECD.
Health authorities, starting from the World Health Organization (WHO), regularly alert the danger of over-consumption of antibiotics, which makes it resistant to dangerous bacteria. Small children and the elderly are particularly at risk.
"In Brazil, Indonesia and Russia, from 40 to 60% of infections are already resistant, compared to an average of 17% in OECD countries, "he said.
Even more worrying is that "resistance to antibiotics of the second or third line will be 70% higher in 2030 than in 2005". These antibiotics are those that are to be used as a last resort when there is no other solution.