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Clean Water, Sanitation, Disease Surveillance Would Help Reduce Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Project Syndicate: Back to Disease-Fighting Basics
Jim O’Neill, commercial secretary to the U.K. Treasury, honorary professor of Economics at Manchester University, visiting research fellow at Bruegel, and chair of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance

“…To tackle the problem [of antimicrobial resistance] permanently, the only option is to prevent infections from occurring in the first place — with improved hygiene, sanitation, and disease surveillance. Indeed, only by focusing on these areas will we lower the demand for new drugs over the long term. … Worryingly, as the latest paper from my Review on Antimicrobial Resistance warns, there is no globally coordinated system of surveillance to monitor the emergence and spread of superbugs around the world. Fundamental gaps remain in how data are gathered and shared, even in the world’s richest countries. … Today, inadequate access to safe water and sanitation is one of the leading causes of diarrheal illness … [Clean water and sanitation] infrastructure is costly, and all countries face tough budgetary choices. But it is one of the best value-for-money investments a middle-income country can make…” (3/28).

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