The threat to humanity from drug-resistant infections is worse than that of climate change, a group of Britain’s most eminent medical experts warned yesterday as they called for a global body to be created to tackle the crisis.
Speaking at the Royal Society in London, the group, which includes Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer and Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, warned that the world is facing an apocalyptic scenario in which people die from routine infections because effective drugs have run out.
In a future without antibiotics, surgery would become deadly, treatment for cancer, diabetes and organ failure would be impossible in their present form and farmers could not contain diseases such as tuberculosis.
Faced with the spectre of a growing number of drug-resistant infections and with few new antibiotics in development, the medical leaders have called for the creation of an equivalent body to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which co-ordinates action on climate change.
“I don’t want to see my children, their children or even myself in hospital with an untreatable infection,” said Dame Sally. “I have pointed out to the government, would they want to be on watch when the health service falls over because they didn’t take action early enough?”
Professor Mark Woolhouse, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “In terms of threats to my own health and that of my children and my family, I am much more concerned about the threat of anti-microbial resistance than I am about climate change.”