We are locked in an arms race with a diverse army of opponents who can evolve much faster than we can. These microbes are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, and can easily and rapidly travel around the world, thanks to our interconnected modern lifestyles and relatively cheap air travel. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, infectious microbes are responsible for one in every four deaths worldwide. While the main burden of disease lies in the developing world, microbes place a huge strain on health systems everywhere.
A recent study published in the journal The Lancet highlighted New Zealand’s dubious honour of bucking international trends. Instead of a steady decline in serious infectious diseases and a rise in hospital admissions for chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, the last two decades have seen our infection-related admissions increase by 50%. This means over 1 in 4 overnight hospital stays is infection-related; each year the equivalent of over 85,000 kiwi’s – mainly children under five and the over 70’s – are hospitalised overnight.
There is a real and urgent need to understand more about the superbugs that plague us and to find new antibiotics to fight them. If you are willing to give up a few coffees a week or month to support our work, or to help us publish our findings in open access journals so it is freely available for everyone to read, donations of any size can be made through the School of Medicine Foundation or our Give A Little page. Or you are welcome to run a marathon for us!