About 7.5 liters of deaths a year in low- and middle-income countries could be prevented through infection control: study

About 7.5 liters of deaths a year in low- and middle-income countries could be prevented through infection control: study

New Delhi: Around 7.5 lakh deaths associated with antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could be prevented each year in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) by improving measures that prevent infections, according to an analysis, part of a series of four articles published in the journal The Lancet.

These measures included hand hygiene, regular cleaning and sterilization of equipment in healthcare facilities, as well as providing access to clean water, effective sanitation and pediatric vaccines, the researchers said.

The international team of researchers estimated that every year, one in eight deaths in the world is caused by bacterial infections – around 77 lakh deaths in total, of which 50 lakh are associated with bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. .

The authors called for support to provide sustainable access to antibiotics to be critical to achieving ambitious and achievable goals to address antimicrobial resistance.

“Access to effective antibiotics is essential for patients around the world. If these antibiotics are not provided, we risk missing the UN Sustainable Development Goals on child survival and healthy aging,” said co-author of the study. series, Iruka Okeke, from the University of Ibadan. , Nigeria.

Okeke said effective antibiotics prolong life, reduce disabilities, limit healthcare costs and enable other life-saving medical actions such as surgery.

“However, antimicrobial resistance is increasing, accelerated by the inappropriate use of antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening the backbone of modern medicine and causing deaths and illnesses that would previously have been prevented,” Okeke said.

Existing infection prevention methods can prevent AMR-associated deaths, according to modeling analysis conducted to develop the series of articles.

The authors found that up to 3.37 lakh deaths a year could be avoided by improving infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities, including better hand hygiene and regular cleaning and sterilization of equipment.

They found that around 2.5 lakh deaths a year could be prevented by providing universal access to safe drinking water and effective sanitation in community settings.

Additionally, the researchers found that 1.82 lakh deaths a year could be avoided by expanding the rollout of some pediatric vaccines, such as pneumococcal vaccines that help protect against pneumonia and meningitis, as well as introducing new ones, such as vaccines against RSV for pregnant women.

“Our findings highlight how public health actions to prevent infections in the first place should be prioritized as a strategy to address AMR, as these methods have the potential to dramatically reduce the number of deaths from AMR-associated infections,” said the co-author Yewande Alimi. from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“If we can focus on improving infection control methods, water, sanitation and vaccination in low- and middle-income countries, then it should be possible to reduce the number of deaths related to antimicrobial resistance by 10 percent.” percent by 2030,” Alimi said.

In addition to preventing infections in the first place, the authors also analyzed evidence for preventing the emergence of resistance in bacteria.

Antibiotic stewardship (reducing antibiotic use when benefit to patients is limited) is thought to reduce selection pressure on bacteria to develop resistance; however, research is lacking in this area.

“The currently limited evidence on the impact of antibiotic stewardship on AMR in low- and middle-income countries does not mean that it is not a key intervention that should be focused on, but rather makes it difficult to anticipate the effects of antibiotic stewardship in those countries.

“We urgently need studies that investigate impact to help inform future policies and interventions appropriate to different contexts,” said co-author Esmita Charani of the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Published May 24, 2024, 03:21 IST