Antimicrobial resistance develops when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or fungi resist antimicrobials that would normally kill them. This resistance is reinforced when antimicrobials are used unnecessarily in humans.
Antibiotics, responsible for treating infections caused by bacteria, are the most common antimicrobials.
The study published in The LancetHave (New window)Have is the result of an international collaboration in 204 countries, led by American scientists from the University of Washington. This work made it possible to analyze 23 pathogens and 88 pathogen-drug combinations.
These researchers estimate that up to 5 million people died in 2019 from diseases in which antimicrobial resistance played a role. Of these, it has been directly associated with 1.27 million deaths.
This new data reveals the true extent of antimicrobial resistance worldwide and is a clear signal that we must act now to combat the threat., notes in a press release Professor Chris Murray, of the University of Washington.
Six major pathogens are responsible for the large number of deaths associated with antimicrobial resistance, includingEscherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae.
While everyone is at risk of antibiotic resistance, our data shows that young children are particularly affected. In 2019, one in five deaths attributable to resistance occurred in children under five, often from previously treatable infections, the researchers note in the statement.
To date, estimates of the health impact of antimicrobial resistance have been published for several countries and regions for a small number of pathogen and drug combinations. No global estimates had been made with a wide range of pathogens and drug combinations.
Researchers say there is an urgent need to invest in new treatments and improve infection control measures. They recall that the optimized use of antibiotics remains the essential measure to control antimicrobial resistance.