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    A report has warned that more than 90,000 people in Britain could die over the next three decades unless action is taken to halt the rise in antibiotic-resistant superbug infections.

    Looking at the impacts of what this means for Brits and Europeans alike, Sputnik spoke to Dr Jonathan Cox, Lecturer in Microbiology at Aston University, for more insight on the issue.

    Sputnik: More than 90,000 people in Britain will die over the next three decades unless action is taken to halt the rise in antibiotic-resistant superbug infections. How significant is this?

    Dr Jonathan Cox: I think this report from the OECD has to be a wake up call to us, if we don’t start responding to the antibiotic resistance threat now and taking action to prevent the spread and dissemination of antibiotic resistance then we could end up in a situation whereby 90,000 Britons are killed by 2050 as a result of antibiotic resistant infection, but I think could is the key word there.

    The report highlights some very fundamental areas that are actually very investable and by exploring these areas we should be able to make a significant dent in those numbers and reduce the antibiotic-resistant threat actively.

    By educating the public we can really reduce the amount of antibiotics that are being consumed unnecessarily and as a result we can have a major impact on the number of antibiotic infections in the UK and around the world.

    Sputnik: It sounds like this is a concern that’s existed for a while. How have Public England, NHS and other health bodies allowed this problem to grow so rapidly?

    Dr Jonathan Cox: Well, actually compared to a lot of other countries we’re not too bad and we’ve rather woken up to the threat of antibiotic-resistance in quite a timely way really. However, our understanding scientifically of the antibiotic resistance threat has only really been a very recent understanding.

    Now that we do understand the reasons why bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics and we understand that this can actually be a result of us inappropriately using the antibiotics in our armory, we’re now in a better position to be able to change the way in which we use them, dispel decades of habit and to reinvent the processes surrounding antibiotic prescription administration and the way in which they’re taken. By being more responsible with antibiotics we can ensure that we have a future and we are able to treat these superbug infections moving forwards. 

    Sputnik:  Ok so on the back of all of this, what actions do we need to see from pharmaceutical companies and GPs in Britain, to protect individuals against these infections?

    Dr Jonathan Cox: I think what we need is unified effort to actually protect us against these infections – as you put it.

    I think the critical thing is that we can reduce antibiotic infections by improving education around antibiotics so for people to understand that antibiotics will not work against viral infections, that actually prevention is better than a cure so if you wash your hands and prevent yourself getting infected you won’t need antibiotics in the first place; so you break that chain of infection.

    We do need improved diagnosis; we need to know the difference between viral and bacterial infections and investment in this area will help to make this a reality. Antibiotic resistance can be stopped but what it requires is action and we’re at the point where we know a lot about it and we really need to act now.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Dr Jonathan Cox and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    bacterial infections, bacteria, antibiotics, resistance, medicine, Dr Jonathan Cox, United Kingdom
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