Antibiotics have long been considered the "silver bullet" against infection.
In recent decades, the widespread use of the drugs means that resistant strains of bacteria are evolving in rich and poor countries alike.
Without new antibiotics, even the simplest surgeries could become perilous, setting medical advances back decades.
Discussions of what should be done about the threat were at the top of the agenda at a European conference on infectious diseases in Berlin.
Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer reports from Berlin.