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People in developing countries are more likely to contract surgical infections

Posted February 17, 2018

Drug-resistant bacteria is a really scary phenomenon and scientists are still trying to figure out what is causing it. It may be that we are just abusing antibiotics, but it could also have different roots. Now scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Warwick say that it could have something to do with common surgical infections in the developing world.

Standards in hospitals in poorer parts of the world are not on par with the wealthier states. Image credit: Minette Lontsie via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 4.0)

It is a well-known fact that healthcare in poorer countries is not as good. People are more likely to catch a surgical infection in these places than in wealthier regions of the world. Furthermore, they more often use antibiotics when it is not necessary and they are the ones suffering from drug-resistant infections the most. However, scientists didn’t really know the extent of the problem and couldn’t really propose any guidelines to address it. But a new research seeks to unravel the scale of the problem.

Scientists analysed more than 12,000 cases from 66 low, middle and high income countries. The patients selected for this study underwent surgery on the digestive system. The goal was to see how much more likely people are to contract an infection in low income countries compared to wealthier regions. And this number turned out to be 60 %. Not only infected patients had to stay in the hospital for a three times longer period, but they were also much more likely to die, although the cause of death was not necessarily the infection. How is this linked to antibiotic resistant? Well, these infections are typically addressed with antibiotics, which allows bacteria to evolve into what scientists commonly call superbugs. This just worsens the situation even further, because these infections become incredibly difficult to treat.

Drug-resistant bacteria is not just a problem in the developing world. It is a global phenomenon, which is threatening societies all around the globe. However, in poorer countries it is noticeably worse. Dr Ewen Harrison, one of the authors of the study, said: “Our study shows that low income countries carry a disproportionately high burden of infections linked to surgery.  We have also identified a potential link between these infections and antibiotic resistance. This is a major healthcare concern worldwide and this link should be investigated further”.

But how do we address this issue? What are the possible ways to improve the cleanliness situation in third world hospitals? There are many more questions that need to be answered.


Source: University of Edinburgh

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