98 Percent of the World Just Declared War on the “Biggest Threat to Modern Medicine”

All 193 UN countries pledged to fight antibiotic resistance.

<p><a href="http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/world-map-medicine-gm470883812-62373490?st=_p_world%20drugs" target="_blank">Pogonici</a>/iStock</p>

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All 193 countries in the United Nations—including the United States—have signed a declaration vowing to combat the the “biggest threat to modern medicine,” the unraveling of antibiotics as a tool for fighting human infections.

The agreement was reached Wednesday morning, just before the UN’s general assembly convened a “high-level meeting on antibiotic resistance” at its headquarters in New York City—”only the fourth health issue to trigger a general assembly meeting,” according to The Guardian.

According to BBC, here is what the countries agreed to do:

• Develop surveillance and regulatory systems on the use and sales of antimicrobial medicines for humans and animals
• Encourage innovative ways to develop new antibiotics, and improve rapid diagnostics
• Educate health professionals and the public on how to prevent drug resistant infections

By mentioning regulation of antibiotics in animal medicine, the declaration acknowledges the connection to meat production, which I teased out here.

The move establishes antibiotic resistance as a threat similar to climate change: one that requires global coordination. That’s because antibiotic resistant pathogens, which currently kill at least 700,000 people per year globally, move rapidly across borders, as I’ve shown here and here.

In a statement last week, Keiji Fukuda, an antibiotics expert at the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), laid out the problem in stark terms. “The emergence of antimicrobial resistance really threatens to send us backwards—to have infections once again become a much larger killer of people,” he said. “By 2050, estimates indicate more people could die from antibiotic resistant infections than those who currently [die] from cancer. This is a surprising comparison, this means that almost 10 million people would die from infections because they those couldn’t be treated anymore.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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