Researchers have found a link between antibiotic resistant infections and poor governance and corruption around the world.
“We found poor governance and higher levels of corruption are associated with higher levels of antibiotic resistance,” says Professor Peter Collignon from The Australian National University (ANU) School of Medicine.
“It is a finding that will be surprising to most people in the field of Medicine.”
The rise of antibiotic-resistant infections is one of the greatest threats facing medicine. The World Health Organisation describes it as a looming crisis in which common and treatable infections are becoming life threatening.
Professor Collignon said the research suggests that addressing corruption and control of antibiotics could help lower antibiotic resistance and save lives.
The research, which examined antibiotic resistance in Europe from both a medical and a political-economic perspective, was a joint project from ANU School of Medicine and the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that a country’s level of antibiotic resistance is not related to its wealth.
Countries with higher levels of corruption often had less rigorous and less transparent processes, with less effective controls over areas related to antibiotic use.
“These include factors that affect antibiotic usage and the ways antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread via water, foods and poor infection control,” said Co-author Associate Professor Sanjaya Senanayake.
“In countries with greater corruption, antibiotic usage may also be much higher than what is recorded.
“If governance and control of corruption can be improved, this can be an important factor in reversing high levels of antibiotic resistance.”
The team found resistance levels were higher when healthcare was performed by the private sector.
“This may be because clinicians in the private health system are subject to fewer controls when it comes to both the volumes and types of antibiotics used,” Associate Professor Senanayake said.
“If more appropriate prescribing and better antimicrobial stewardship were to take place, that will likely result in lower levels of antibiotic resistance.”
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