Antimicrobial resistance accounts for more global deaths than HIV, malaria, study finds

An estimated 1.27 million people around the world died directly from antimicrobial-resistant bacterial infections in 2019, according to a study published Jan. 19 in The Lancet. Antimicrobial resistance was also a factor in nearly 5 million deaths globally, the estimates show. 

Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were the six leading pathogens involved in the deaths in the study, responsible for 929,000 deaths attributed to resistance. These pathogens were also behind another 3.57 million deaths associated with resistance. 

Western sub-Saharan Africa had the highest all-age death rate attributable to resistance at 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while Australia, New Zealand and neighboring islands had the lowest at 6.5 deaths per 100,000. 

The estimates make the global death toll higher than that of HIV and malaria, based on the "Global Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors Study" for 2019, which provides estimates of disease burden for 369 diseases and injuries in 24 countries and territories between 1990 and 2019. 

Researchers used data from literature reviews, hospital systems and other sources to estimate global deaths attributable to and associated with bacterial antimicrobial resistance for 23 pathogens and 88 pathogen-drug combinations in 2019. 

"Each of these leading pathogens is a major global health threat that warrants more attention, funding, capacity building, research and development, and pathogen-specific priority setting from the broader global health community," researchers said. 

To view the full study, click here.

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