Antimicrobial Resistance Causes More Deaths Than HIV, Malaria: Lancet

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According to a study published in the medical journal Lancet, at least 1.2 million people died because of antimicrobial resistance in 2019.

This is the most comprehensive analysis, so far, of the global impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Health leaders have warned that antimicrobial resistance poses a serious threat to humanity.

The analysis published in the Lancet covered around 204 countries and territories, and found that AMR is now a leading cause of death in most of them.

AMR is killing more people than HIV/AIDS or malaria worldwide, according to the analysis. Thousands of people are now dying of previously treatable infections because of drug resistance.


How Is This New Analysis on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Different?

This is the first analysis on AMR that covers such a large number of countries and a broad range of pathogens and drug combinations.

Earlier, the estimates of the health impact of antimicrobial resistance were published for a small number of pathogen-drug combinations in a wider range of locations.

“These new data reveal the true scale of antimicrobial resistance worldwide and are a clear signal that we must act now to combat the threat. Previous estimates had predicted 10 million annual deaths from antimicrobial resistance by 2050, but we now know for certain that we are already far closer to that figure than we thought."
Prof Chris Murray, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, as quoted by the Guardian

"We need to leverage this data to course-correct action and drive innovation if we want to stay ahead in the race against antimicrobial resistance," added Prof Murray.

The new report on Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance (Gram) gives an estimation of deaths linked to 23 pathogens and 88 pathogen-drug combinations around 204 countries and territories in the year 2019.

The paper stated, "statistical modelling was used to produce estimates of the impact of AMR in all locations – including those with no data – using 471 million individual records obtained from systematic literature reviews, hospital systems, surveillance systems, and other data sources."

Results of the Analysis

The results of the analysis published in the Lancet showed that the deaths related to AMR was 1.27 million worldwide.

The deaths caused by HIV/AIDS and malaria were estimated to 860,000 and 640,000 respectively, in 2019.

The analysis also proved that even though antimicrobial resistance death was common among all age groups, children were at a higher risk. One in five children, under the age of five, died due to AMR.

The regional deaths caused by AMR is highest in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, according to the report. In high income countries, per 100,000 population there were 13 directly AMR related deaths.

In western Europe region, 51,000 people died directly due to AMR, according to the analysis.

“Behind these new numbers are families and communities who are tragically bearing the brunt of the silent AMR pandemic. We must use this data as a warning signal to spur on action at every level.”
Dame Sally Davies, UK’s special envoy on antimicrobial resistance, quoted The Guardian

The report proved that there is an urgent need of scaling up action to fight antimicrobial resistance. The policymakers should work towards protecting health systems and save lives.

This can be done by making the best use of existing antibiotics, by monitoring infections and provide funding to develop new treatments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of global collaboration: political leaders, the healthcare community, the private sector and the public working together to tackle a global health threat. Like COVID-19, we know what needs to be done to address AMR, but we must now come together with a sense of urgency and global solidarity if we are to be successful.”
Tim Jinks, the head of the drug-resistant infections programme at Wellcome Trust, quoted The Guardian

(Written with inputs from The Guardian.)

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