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Alarming Rise in Antibiotic Resistance Among Children and Youth in Bangladesh: An in-depth Analysis

A recent study in Bangladesh, conducted by the Department of Microbiology at the National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre, brings to light an alarming health concern.

The study found that individuals under the age of 20 have exhibited the highest levels of resistance to antibiotics, with an astounding 29.2% of this young demographic exhibiting multiple antibiotic resistance. The root causes of such resistance can be traced back to the inappropriate use of antibiotics, including the consumption of antibiotics without medical prescription, indiscriminate use without considering culture sensitivity, and their inappropriate prescription for viral fevers. An overlooked source of antibiotic resistance is also poultry chickens, posing a significant threat to children who consume such meat.

Antibiotic resistance is a complex and serious problem where bacteria, viruses, or fungi stop responding to drugs over a period, making treatment of infections much more challenging. According to the study’s findings, about 8.61% of bacteria in the country have developed a total resistance to all varieties of antibiotics. The most common bacteria include Pseudomonas (25.41%), Klebsiella (21.14%), and E.coli (21.04%). Dr. Sunzida Arina, assistant professor at the Department of Microbiology of the National Institute of Laboratory Medicine & Referral Centre, expressed her concern over the study’s findings of antibiotic resistance even in babies a few months old, which might complicate their treatments if they later acquire an antibiotic-resistant infection.

The research encompassed 13,350 samples from cases suspected of infectious diseases, collecting from various institutes and medical colleges from October 2022 to May 2023, with patients of all ages and sexes. The results revealed that the highest percentage of multidrug-resistant organisms (29.2%) were from individuals less than 20 years old.

The World Health Organization warns that antibiotic resistance results in increased mortality rates, longer hospital stays, and higher medical expenses. Disturbingly, a six-year-old patient with a urinary tract infection was found to be resistant to 12 out of 15 antibiotics, putting her future health and potential recovery from illness at risk. Dr. Sayedur Rahman, vice-chairman of the Bangladesh Chapter of the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership, urges the need for multiple efforts to mitigate this growing health issue. He highlights the need for better infection control practices in hospitals and emphasizes tighter enforcement of regulations pertaining to the sale of antibiotics. He proposes that doctors should only prescribe antibiotics after conducting sensitivity tests, a process that requires expanding the laboratory network across districts.

Dr. Sunzida Arina calls for widening the discourse on antibiotic resistance, incorporating areas like environment and industry, where antibiotics are extensively used, such as in poultry farming. She advocates for comprehensive studies focusing on the potential development of resistance among consumers, especially children who consume poultry meat.


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