The Global Burden of Disease Antimicrobial Resistance project was announced at Wellcome’s Call to Action conference in Berlin last week. The conference gathered government ministers, scientists, and industry and civil society leaders together to discuss how to tackle this global health threat.

“Unchecked, eventually routine surgeries could prove life-threatening”

The rapid spread of superbugs poses a great risk to human health, increasing length of hospital stays and mortality rates. Left unchecked, eventually routine surgical procedures such as caesareans could prove life-threatening. Currently 700,000 people die each year from drug resistant infections; however, predicted numbers show that this may rise to 10 million people a year by 2050. Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust said: “We can stop the superbugs which could undermine the whole of modern medicine. But the impact is now and the time to act is now.”

This project is the first of its kind to map the disease and deaths caused by drug resistant infections to support further research. Scientists from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute, the Centre for Tropical Medicine, and The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, will collaborate on this research with additional funding provided by the UK government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Additionally, Wellcome launched a new expert group – the Surveillance and Epidemiology of Drug Resistant Infections Consortium (SEDRIC) to enable better global data sharing strategies on drug resistant infections.