What Steps Should Be Taken to Combat Superbugs in the Developing World?

By Christopher Metzger

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Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), photo courtesy of Flickr user NIAID under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

What is antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) refers to the ability of microbes to grow in the presence of substances specifically designed to kill them, specifically antibiotics. Superbug is a non-scientific term used by the media to refer to a pathogenic bacterium that has developed an immunity to antibiotics. The annual economic costs of AMR and superbugs—measured in lost productivity—could be as large as that of the 2008 global financial crisis. Without a global containment effort, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be out of reach. In particular, goals 1 and 3—ending poverty, and achieving good health and well-being—will be unreachable by 2030. If containment efforts fail by 2050, more people will be dying from resistant bacteria than from cancer, as shown in Figure 1. The deaths and medical costs that would result from widespread drug-resistant bacteria could cost developing countries five percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050, yet the threat of superbugs is only just beginning to receive the international media attention that it deserves.

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ADB President Reflects on Lessons from Asia’s Development

By Samantha Prior

Asia has been a key driver of global economic growth in the 21st century, and will remain a key theatre for development in the coming decades as one of the fastest developing regions in the world. Economies in the region grew at a rate of 6.1% in 2013 and 2014, and growth is forecasted to increase to 6.2% for 2015. However, poverty levels remain troubling, with nearly one-third of the population of Asia living on less than $1.51 per day in 2010.

ADB Headquarters in Manila

ADB Headquarters in Manila. Photo available under the public domain.

The President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Takehiko Nakao, recently put out his “Eight Key Actions for Economic Development in Asia”. Citing Asia’s “remarkable progress in development and poverty reduction,” Nakao seeks to explain why some Asian countries have developed more rapidly than others. He outlined eight key action areas that lead to success:  infrastructure, human capital, macro-economy, investment and trade, governance, equality, vision for the future, and security and stability.  While all eight categories of action are crucial for development, four of Nakao’s points should be highlighted: Continue reading