7,50,000 AMR-related deaths can be prevented annually: The Lancet

7,50,000 AMR-related deaths can be prevented annually: The Lancet

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antimicrobial resistance

Enhanced hand hygiene, equipment sterilisation, safe water, effective sanitation, and paediatric vaccinations are key strategies highlighted in the latest modelling analysis.

Improving and expanding existing methods to prevent infections, such as hand hygiene, sterilisation of equipment in healthcare facilities, safe drinking water, effective sanitation and use of paediatric vaccines, could prevent over 750,000 deaths associated with antimicrobial resistance (AMR), every year in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), estimates a new modelling analysis as part of a four paper Series published in The Lancet.

Every year, an estimated 7.7 million deaths globally are caused by bacterial infections. That is, one in eight of all global deaths, making bacterial infections the second-largest cause of death globally. Out of these deaths, almost five million are associated with bacteria which have developed resistance to antibiotics. Authors of the new Lancet Series on antimicrobial resistance call for support for sustainable access to antibiotics to be central to ambitious and actionable targets on tackling AMR introduced at the High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2024.

“Access to effective antibiotics is essential to patients worldwide. A failure to provide these antibiotics puts us at risk for not meeting the UN sustainable development goals on child survival and health aging. Effective antibiotics prolong lives, reduce disabilities, limit healthcare costs and enable other life-saving medical actions such as surgery. However, antimicrobial resistance is on the rise - accelerated by inappropriate use of antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic - threatening the backbone of modern medicine and already leading to deaths and disease which would have once been prevented,” says Series co-author, Professor Iruka Okeke of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. 

Improving infection prevention and control in healthcare facilities, including better hand hygiene and more regular cleaning and sterilisation of equipment, could save up to 3,37,000 lives a year. Similarly, universal access to safe drinking water and effective sanitation in community settings could prevent nearly 2,47,800 deaths annually.

Expanding the roll out of some paediatric vaccines, such as pneumococcal vaccines which help protect against pneumonia and meningitis, is another effective measure to tackle AMR. Further, introducing new vaccines, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines for pregnant mothers, could save 1,81,500 lives a year. 

“Focusing on interventions with demonstrated effectiveness in preventing infections must be at the heart of global action to tackle AMR. Preventing infections reduces the use of antibiotics and reduces selection pressure for AMR so that the drugs will work when they are most needed,” notes co-author Professor Joseph Lewnard of the University of California in Berkeley, United States.

The authors of The Lancet Series call for “the global will to act”, powered by studies that can “inform future policies and interventions fit for different contexts”.

Read More : Infections associated with health care delivery represent a preventable tragedy: WHO