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Antibiotic Resistance: a bigger threat than cancer by 2050

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Antibiotic Resistance: a bigger threat than cancer by 2050

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Euronews -Sophie Claudet

A British study shows that by 2050, antibiotic resistance could become even more deadly than cancer – with more than 10 million victims a year.Do you agree with these findings?

WHO – Antimicrobial resistance expert – Elizabeth Tayler

I do, it’s not just that it’s going to kill more people because of infections but simple things like routine surgery, treatments of cancer will all become very, very much more risky if the drugs stop working. But it’ s not just a problem for 2050. This is a problem that’s facing Europe now. At least 25,000 people are dying because of resistance and it’s probably costing us about 1.5 billion euros in terms of longer treatment costs and decreased productivity.

Antibiotics in meat production

Euronews -Sophie Claudet

Now let’s talk about the use of antibiotics in livestock. We see that Spain, Germany, Italy use antibiotics much more so than other European countries, EU countries.Are there not blanket regulations for the whole of Europe?

WHO – Elizabeth Tayler

Yes, I mean, this is an important issue because there’s a 100-fold-variation between the countries that use most and those that use least. Europe does actually lead the way in restriction on antibiotic use and since 2006 we have banned it’s use just to promote the growth of animals but still vast quantities are used in some countries to prevent infection particularly when there is overcrowding or unsanitary conditions, a lot of antibiotics are being used. We actually don’t think this is necessary and in Denmark in the pig industry it’s been phased out from this use and antibiotics are only used to treat animals when they are actually sick and Danish pork production has increased over this period as has the profitability.

A new approach needed

Euronews -Sophie Claudet

So does it mean we need to rethink the way we are breeding, slaughtering and treating animals basically, treating as in like with medicines?

WHO – Elizabeth Tayler

Yes, I mean there are a whole range of ways in which antibiotics fed to animals will breed resistance in humans. Effectively the more we use them the quicker we lose them but antibiotic contamination of the meat or resistant bugs contaminating the meat through poor slaughtery, poor unhygienic conditions resulting in infection of the workers or the manure going out into the fields and into the water contaminating that, all contribute to the resistance problems.

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