China advised to stand up to superbug risks
CHINA faces a million deaths a year from antibiotic-resistant superbugs and a loss of US$20 trillion by 2050, an economist and former top Goldman Sachs executive has said.
Beijing should “take ownership” of anti-microbial resistance (AMR) when it hosts the G20 summit next year, said Jim O’Neill, the leader of a British government-commissioned review on the subject.
“Here is an issue that doesn’t distinguish between religion, color, race,” he said. “Whether you’re Sunni or Shiite, you’re going to get killed by AMR if we don’t do something about it.”
O’Neill, former chief economist at the US investment bank and chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said that the threat put China’s remarkable economic performance in the last decade and its enormous future potential” in jeopardy.
“Drug-resistant infections could cost the Chinese economy US$20 trillion by 2050, and even more shockingly, cause an additional 1 million deaths per year,” he said.
The review, announced last year by British Prime Minister David Cameron, has found that by 2050, drug-resistant infections could cut global gross domestic product by 2.0 to 3.5 percent and kill 10 million people a year around the world.
In comparison the second-biggest killer, cancer, would account for about 8.2 million deaths a year by 2050, according to the review.
Several novel diseases have emerged from China in recent years, including SARS and human outbreaks of strains of bird flu.
China’s medical institutions have been heavily dependent on antibiotics sales for their revenue.
Experts say the system incentivizes doctors to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics, thus exacerbating the problem of drug resistance.
O’Neill — who is known for having coined the BRIC acronym to refer to emerging powers Brazil, Russia, India and China acknowledged the issue, telling reporters: “You’ve got to think of better ways of compensating the medical profession.”