“No space for fake news”: the antimicrobial resistance threat

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Experts in health and infectious diseases argued yesterday that there is “no space for fake news” on the increasing antimicrobial resistance threat. They advocate clear, evidenced reporting on the science of antimicrobial resistance and proactive policies.

They argued that a combination of antimicrobial resistance, complacency, austerity, climate change, urbanisation and migration are increasing the risk of infectious diseases and pandemics resulting from the antimicrobial resistance threat.

The debate was hosted by the International Longevity Centre (ILC) and took place alongside the 100th anniversary of the Spanish flu, which killed between 50 and 100 million people.

The antimicrobial resistance threat

At the event, David Sinclair, ILC Director said: “The Spanish flu shaped the profile of a generation, their demographics but also their health profile. 100 years on, it is vital that we do not become complacent about infectious diseases. We must learn the lessons from this deadly disease to ensure that history does not repeat itself.”

Sinclair continued: “Reporting on science should be clear, transparent and evidence based. There is no space for fake news if we are to be best prepared. Policymakers must not rest on their laurels. Antimicrobial Resistance is a real threat and vaccination across the lifecourse should be our first line of defence.”

The impact of infectious diseases

Despite the progress made over the last century, infectious diseases remain a significant threat to human health.

The key statistics on the threat of infectious diseases are as follows:
• The 2009 H1N1 Pandemic caused between 150,000 and 500,000 global deaths;
• Pneumonia and the flu remain to be the biggest infectious disease killers in the US, accounting for around 40% of deaths from infectious diseases; and
• From 1980-1995, there was an increase in death rate due to infectious diseases – especially HIV.

Low income countries are disproportionately at risk of infectious diseases.

• In 2010, infections still caused the majority of deaths in low-income countries; and
• An estimated 2.4 billion people still lack access to improved sanitation.

A modern day antibiotic resistant pandemic

Steven Baxter, Head of Longevity Innovation & Research, Hymans Robertson LLP, commented: “A modern day antibiotic resistant pandemic would have far reaching impact. Immediate effects of huge morbidity, loss of economic productivity, massive strain on health systems and potentially material loss of life are obvious…Just as viruses adapt – we must adapt to today’s challenges if we want to maintain our current levels of health and longevity.”

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