Access to antibiotics to save more babies

Upto 455,000 lives of children under five could be saved each year with improved access to antibiotics for treating pneumonia, a new study says.

The study by researchers at the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) shows that antibiotic consumption in humans is increasing worldwide, driven by rising incomes, health insurance, and a large remaining burden of infectious disease. But deaths attributable to resistance are caused by delays in recognition and ineffective treatment.

“These deaths are also caused by misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment of malaria with antibiotics, and vice versa, particularly in areas where both diseases are common. Increasingly, there are patients who do not respond to any known class of antibiotics,” says the study.

“The increase in antibiotic consumption notwithstanding, access to antibiotics is a continuing problem and more deaths are caused by the limited access and delays in access to antibiotics than by antibiotic resistance.”

Improving access to antibiotics is particularly challenging in many rural and remote areas.

Resistance to antibiotics threatens improvements made in child survival. Globally, an estimated 214,000 neonatal sepsis deaths are attributable to resistant pathogens each year.

The study says that the problem of access to antibiotics in low-and middle-income countries where weak health care systems often fail to reach people in need, is complicated by the fact that overuse of these powerful drugs can lead to drug-resistant bacteria, which renders certain antibiotics powerless to fight infection. For example, almost a quarter of a million babies (214,000) die each year across the globe due to sepsis infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria.

Vaccine coverage is one solution that would prevent the need for antibiotics in the first place the study