Antibiotic resistance: 750,000 deaths could be avoided each year, says report

Antibiotic resistance: 750,000 deaths could be avoided each year, says report
Antibiotic resistance: 750,000 deaths could be avoided each year, says report


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Published on

May 27, 2024 at 6:04 a.m.

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Every year on the planet, more than 7 million deaths are caused by bacterial infections, or 1 in 8 deaths. And of these, nearly 5 million are associated with bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics.

“Access to effective antibiotics is essential for patients around the world,” recalls in the columns of The Lancet Professor Iruka Okeke of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Effective antibiotics prolong life, reduce disability, limit healthcare costs (…) However, antimicrobial resistance is on the rise – accelerated in particular by the inappropriate use of antibiotics during the Covid-19 pandemic – threatening thus the backbone of modern medicine and already leading to deaths and illnesses that would once have been avoided.

Professor Iruka Okeke

Who are the most vulnerable

The report highlights how infants, children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses are most vulnerable to antibiotic resistance. The latter therefore constitutes a major threat to the survival of newborns: a third of deaths are due to infections and half of them following sepsis.

It also compromises the safety of common medical procedures such as organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy and the treatment of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc.

So, how to act?

For Professor Joseph Lewnard of the University of California at Berkeley and co-author of the report, “focusing on interventions that have demonstrated their effectiveness in preventing infections must be at the heart of global action. »

According to the authors, the application of existing infection prevention methods could save 750,000 deaths each year. So :

  • Improving prevention in healthcare settings, including better hand hygiene and more regular cleaning and sterilization of equipment, could save up to 337,000 lives per year;
  • Universal access to drinking water and effective sanitation in community settings could prevent approximately 247,800 deaths per year;
  • Expanding the rollout of some pediatric vaccines, such as pneumococcal vaccines that help protect against pneumonia and meningitis, but also introducing new vaccines, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines, origin in particular of bronchiolitis) for pregnant women, could save 181,500 lives per year.

This urgent question on antibiotic resistance will be addressed at the next United Nations General Assembly in September 2024. The authors hope that the solutions listed in this report will make it possible to achieve their “10-20-30” goal by 2030, to know :

  • Reduce mortality due to antibiotic resistance by 10%;
  • Reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics in humans by 20%;
  • Reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics in animals by 30%.

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