The Use Of Antimicrobial Drugs In Developing Countries Must Be Limited To Avoid Producing Untreatable Diseases

September 04, 1998

(Antimicrobial resistance in developing countries)

Antibiotics are an important resource for the treatment of infectious diseases, which cause 98% of child fatalities and the majority of overall deaths in the developing world. As the most effective and newly-developed drugs are expensive, many people turn to less expensive sources of treatment, such as pharmacies or markets for prescriptions. This overuse of unregulated antimicrobial drugs greatly contributes to the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacterial diseases.

In this week's BMJ, Professor Hart from the University of Liverpool and Dr Kariuki of the Kenya Medical Research Institute review the progress of antibacterial resistance in diseases including pneumococcal meningitis, tuberculosis and typhoid fever. They conclude that there must be improved surveillance of resistance, better regulation of antimicrobial drugs to increase their usefulness, and better education of medical personnel, veterinarians and the public to encourage more appropriate use of these drugs. The authors also suggest that improving laboratory infrastructure would be a long-term solution to facilitate surveillance of resistance trends as an early-warning system for public health.


Professor Hart, Department of Medical Microbiology and Genitourinary Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool


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