This systematic analysis in The Lancet used data covering 471 million individual records from systematic literature reviews, hospital systems, surveillance systems and other sources. The authors, an international research collective called the Antimicrobial Resistance Collaborators, used this data to estimate deaths and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) that have come about as a result of bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR). They estimated that, in 2019, 1.27 million deaths were directly attributable to AMR, with the three primary infections involved being lower respiratory and thorax infections, bloodstream infections and intra-abdominal infections.
Their analysis shows that AMR death rates were highest in some lower- and middle-income countries, making AMR not only a major health problem globally, but a particularly serious problem for some of the poorest countries in the world.
This study shows that drug resistance is a major global health threat that warrants more attention, funding, capacity building and research and development from the broader global health community. It argues that that well developed national action plans and laboratory infrastructure are needed in all regions and countries, and highlights the following intervention strategies to address the challenge of AMRs:
- Ensuring the core principles of infection control are supported in all countries and settings, including water, sanitation and hygiene.
- Preventing infections through vaccinations.
- Reducing exposure to antibiotics unrelated to treating human disease.
- Minimising the use of antibiotics when they are not necessary to improve human health—such as treating viral infections.
- Maintaining investment in the development pipeline for new antibiotics.