Report: Antimicrobial Resistance May Wipe Out a Century of Health Care Progress

World Bank issues warning

If drug-resistant infections in people and animals are allowed to spread unchecked, approximately 28 million people will fall into poverty by 2050, and a century of progress in health care will be reversed, according to report from the World Bank.

The findings in the report are based on World Bank Group projections of the world economy from 2017 to 2050. They include:

  • Impact on global poverty: There would be a pronounced increase in extreme poverty because of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Of the additional 28.3 million people falling into extreme poverty in 2050, the majority (26.2 million) would live in low-income countries. Currently, the world is broadly on track to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030, reaching close to the target of less than 3% of people living in extreme poverty. AMR risks are putting this target out of reach.
  • Impact on health care costs: Global increases in health care costs may range from $300 billion per year to more than $1 trillion per year by 2050.

Drug-resistant infections, in both humans and animals, are on the rise globally, according to the report. If AMR spreads unchecked, many infectious diseases will again be untreatable, reversing a century of progress in public health.

“We cannot afford to lose the gains in the last century brought about by the antibiotic era,” Tim Evans, the World Bank’s senior director for health, nutrition, and population, told Reuters. “By any measure, the cost of inaction on antimicrobial resistance is too great; it needs to be addressed urgently and resolutely.”

The United Nations has scheduled a day-long special session on AMR as part of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.

Several recent reports on AMR have highlighted the enormous global economic losses it can cause—estimated at approximately $100 trillion by 2050.

Sources: World Bank; September 18, 2016; and Reuters; September 19, 2016.