R UMINA HASAN peers at a sample of bacteria taken from a three-day-old baby suffering from fever and fits. What she sees in her laboratory in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, is alarming. The bugs causing the illness– Serratia marcescens– are resistant to every antibiotic available. Meanwhile at a hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, Jobayer Chisti struggles to save a one-month-old from pneumonia caused by drug-resistant Klebsiella . This bug would be remarkable in Britain or America, where most cases of bacterial pneumonia are easily cured by antibiotics. But 77% of the infections treated by Dr Chisti's team between 2014 and 2017 involved drug-resistant bacteria. Antimicrobial-resistant infections are now a leading cause of death around the world, according to a report released by the Lancet , a medical journal, on January 20th. In 2019 almost 1.3m deaths directly resulted from illness caused by drug-resistant bugs. The highest tolls by far were in sub-Saharan Africa, where 24 deaths per 100,000 were the result of antimicrobial resistance, and South Asia, where it was 22 deaths per 100,000 (see chart). When antibiotics, which kill bacteria, and other new antimicrobial drugs, including antifungals, became widely available in rich countries during the 1940s, they revolutionised medicine…. Read full this story
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