17:55 22 September 2016
193 countries have agreed a landmark declaration to aggressively fight drug-resistant infections or “superbugs”. Experts said that the international commitment could prevent 700,000 deaths a year.
This marks the fourth time a UN declaration has been reach on a health issue following HIV in 2001, non-communicable diseases in 2011 and Ebola in 2013.
Experts have called for urgent action as treatment-resistant infections become one of the biggest known threats to humanity. They said that unless the issue is tackled quickly, simple infections could soon become entirely untreatable with existing drugs. The problem was due to the over-use of antimicrobial medicines for humans, animals and agriculture.
Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, said: "Antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental threat to human health, development and security.
"The commitments made today must now be translated into swift, effective, lifesaving actions across the human, animal and environmental health sectors.
"We are running out of time."
Meanwhile, the UK's chief medical officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, said: "Drug-resistant infections are firmly on the global agenda, but now the real work begins.
"We need governments, the pharmaceutical industry, health professionals and the agricultural sector to follow through on their commitments to save modern medicine."