The UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, delivered a stark warning on the dangers of antibiotic resistance when she spoke in front of an audience of more than 400 people at Oxford’s Examination Schools on Monday (2 March).
The Oxford Martin School had invited Professor Davies to speak on the topic of the ‘ticking time bomb’ of antibiotic resistance, and also to give insights into working within the medical sciences, ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March.
She told the audience that antibiotics had transformed modern medicine and people’s daily lives, but that resistance to them was already a “deadly reality”. To make matters worse, she said, resistance had been known about for decades and nothing had been done about it, with no new class of antibiotic discovered since 1987. She warned that “without action we risk infection-related mortality returning to pre-antibiotic levels by the mid-21st century”, and said the social and economic costs would be huge.
Professor Davies said she was working to ensure that resistance was put on the government’s risk register next to terrorism and pandemic flu, to focus minds, and that it was an issue that countries around the globe needed to work on together.
Tackling the issue of gender equality, she praised Oxford’s Medical Sciences division and its head, Professor Alastair Buchan, for their work to increase the number of women building careers in that particular field, and concluded by saying that, when it came to antibiotic resistance, it was “time to stop talking and start doing – we can all stand up and be counted, and make a difference.”