Top doctors warn of medical 'dark age'

Australia needs to establish its own Centre for Disease Control to help lead a global coordinated effort to prevent a looming medical "dark age", doctors say.

The nation's peak medical association warns superficial cuts could be deadly and basic surgery too risky due to the rise of antimicrobial resistant superbugs.

In its new report the Australian Medical Association says resistant infections are already adding an extra $10,000 to medical treatments with hospitals spending $16.8 million a year treating common resistant hospital-associated infections.

Antimicrobial resistant infections were associated with nearly five million deaths globally in 2019 and that toll could blow out to 50 million each year by 2050.

The association's president, Professor Steve Robson, said it was "critical" wealthy nations like Australia started working to address this.

"Unless there are a number of changes within government and industry we are headed for the medical dark ages," he said.

"We are on track to return to a time where a superficial scratch could be life threatening, and the procedures and treatments which we now rely on are considered too risky to perform, due to risk of untreatable infection."

The report released on Saturday proposes Australia establish its own Centre for Disease Control as a separate authority to fight diseases and health threats.

This new CDC would be aligned with global practices to help combat the spread of disease.

The report recommends improving antimicrobial practices in Australia with further training and education.

It also argues more needs to be done to incentivise the production, research and development of antimicrobials.

"Australia, as a wealthy developed nation, should be a global leader," Professor Robson said.