10 Oct 2019

Hospital-acquired superbugs: A growing threat in Asia-Pacific

12:54 pm on 10 October 2019

There's concern about the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance in the Pacific, with health authorities warning a surge in hospital-acquired infections are becoming seriously resistant to antibiotics.

It turns out that the age old advice from medical experts about finishing all of the antibiotics prescribed might be wrong.

Photo: Public Domain

Those superbugs were pushing doctors to try treating patients with so-called 'last resort' antibiotics, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) acting director of health Socorro Escalante said.

Dr Escalante said that was particularly common with what's called 'gram-negative bacterial infections,' which affect many countries in the Western Pacific region.

"Particularly those countries which have strong surveillance systems are regularly reporting these serious infections in hospitals.

"And what is important is these infections cause very high morbidity or death [rates] as well as lengthen the hospital stays of patients and therefore increases the cost of hospitalisation."

There were growing problems with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, as well as a rise in resistance to malaria treatments in some Southeast Asian countries which she said could easily spread, Dr Escalante said.

WHO was also reporting a rise in drug resistant sexually transmitted diseases, with gonorrhoea being particularly difficult to treat.

Antimicrobial resistance could reverse gains in the fights against tuberculosis, malaria and HIV and if the medicines lose their power, even a very simple cut can become a life threatening incident, WHO reported.