According to recent data from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Cyprus and Greece have the highest ranking in the union for antibiotic consumption and are among the European Union countries with the highest rates of antimicrobial resistance and burden of infections from multi-drug resistant pathogens, according to the Cyprus Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (KEKMIL).
On the occasion of World Antibiotic Resistance Awareness Week (18-24 November 2022), the KEKMIL stated that, despite the efforts of both the Public Health Services and all infectious disease specialists, clinical microbiologists, and pharmacists, antibiotic resistance remains a "sad phenomenon" in our country.
1.27 million people died directly from antibiotic-resistant microbial infections in 2019 (compared to 860,000 from HIV/AIDS and 640,000 from malaria),
Since the discovery of penicillin, the first antibiotic, in 1928, antibiotics saved and continue to save millions of human lives every day from infections caused by microbes, transforming diseases previously thought fatal into routine illnesses requiring little more than a short course of treatment.
However, it is noted that these achievements are now jeopardized, owing primarily to the indiscriminate and irrational use of antibiotics, which leads to increased antimicrobial resistance and an increase in hospital-acquired infections caused by multi-resistant microorganisms, resulting in an increase in mortality, length of hospitalization, and, ultimately, the financial burden on health systems.
"Before the coronavirus pandemic has even reached its apex, an underlying epidemic, silent but deadly, is already underway and will peak by 2050. This is an epidemic of resistant microbes, which are demonstrating their potential, particularly in hospitals, infecting inpatients and threatening their fragile health or even their lives," the statement added.
It is noted that the extraordinary and imposing presence of SARS-COV-2 in the last three years has exacerbated the problem of antimicrobial resistance. "According to studies, the use of antibiotics for secondary infections, or prophylactics, in the context of a COVID-19 infection increased by 11.2% in the first year of the pandemic. The administration of antibiotics within the hospital appears to be following the same high trend".
Concerns about a return to the "pre-antibiotic era"
It is also emphasized that without immediate and effective measures to reverse the current situation, there is a real risk that in the near future we will return to the "pre-antibiotic era," where simple infections will cause serious problems and even death due to a lack of available treatment options, turning routine medical procedures into high-risk procedures - complex surgical operations, as well as treatments for immunocompromised patients, will be impossible.
According to the most recent figures published in the medical journal The Lancet, 1.27 million people died directly from antibiotic-resistant microbial infections in 2019 (compared to 860,000 from HIV/AIDS and 640,000 from malaria), and such infections may have played an indirect role in nearly another 5 million deaths.
Every year, an estimated 214,000 newborns die from sepsis caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and a lack of effective antibiotics endangers both basic and advanced medicine. The paper's authors hope that with this new data, the world will be better prepared than ever to correct the wrong trajectory.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]