Professor Shahzad Ali Khan says antimicrobial resistance ranked as third leading cause of death in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Health experts have revealed that a staggering 70% of antibiotics were being used unnecessarily in Pakistan.

The revelation came to light during the Antimicrobial Stewardship Conference held in Karachi, with support from the National Institute for Health Services Academy, as reported private news.

During the conference, experts highlighted the alarming global impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), citing that 5 million people worldwide lost their lives due to complications arising from it.

The indiscriminate use of antibiotic drugs was flagged as a critical issue by the experts, emphasising the urgent need for control measures.

As per a concerning statistic shared by Professor Shahzad Ali Khan, antimicrobial resistance ranked as the third leading cause of death in Pakistan, with estimated 300,000 deaths due to drug-resistant bacteria and 700,000 deaths by AMR, annually.

“Antimicrobial resistance is now the third leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease, and maternal and neonatal disorders in Pakistan, because we now have infections caused by bacteria that are not responding to third- and fourth-generation antibiotics,” the professor, who is the vice chancellor of Islamabad’s Health Services Academy (HSA) said.

A report by The News stated that health officials, public health experts, physicians and policymakers present at the event deplored the fact that Pakistan was the third largest consumer of antibiotics in the world after China and India.

They noted that antibiotic medicines worth Rs126 billion were consumed in 2023 alone in Pakistan, and urged people not to purchase and use antibiotics without the advice of trained and qualified physicians.

Prof Khan said abuse of antibiotics by doctors, quacks and people themselves is making these important medicines highly ineffective.

He said that antibiotics are wonder drugs that saved millions of lives during world wars and pandemics, but their irrational use or abuse has led to AMR, which is now becoming a global public health concern.

“Self-medication, unjustified prescription of antibiotics by quacks and physicians, taking antibiotics for a shorter duration and the production of substandard antibiotics by some companies are some of the major causes of antimicrobial resistance,” he added.

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