Efforts to tackle drug-resistant infections will require a global fund of at least $5 billion each year, researchers have projected. Experts in infectious diseases are calling for a World Bank Trust Fund to coordinate global action on this growing public health crisis. Growing resistance is leading to the emergence of superbugs that can cause life-threatening infections, such as MRSA or drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Researchers say that tackling the problem will require a coordinated global response and recommend introducing targets to reduce the number of drug-resistant infections over the next five years.

$5 billion is needed annually to develop global systems for monitoring resistance and to establish the framework needed to address the threat, experts add.

It could also be used to accelerate the development of new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments, as well as regulatory processes to ensure that current medicines are being used appropriately.

In addition to financial investment, the group proposes global limits on antibiotics use. In particular, use of antibiotics in agriculture to promote growth of farmed animals should be phased out worldwide, they argue.

Improving access to clean water, sanitation and public health infrastructure will help to curb the spread of disease and reduce the overall need for antibiotics, they say.

Researchers from the US Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, the University of Edinburgh, New York University and Fudan University in China outlined their proposals in the journal Science.

Their recommendations come ahead of a United Nations General Assembly meeting in September, where heads of state from around the world will discuss how best to preserve global access to effective medicines for infectious diseases.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, said: “Drug resistance knows no borders, as we have seen with the spread of superbugs around the world. It is crucial that nations come together with appropriate financing and governance to tackle this challenge together.”