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P N G Med J. 2000 Mar-Jun;43(1-2):82-90.

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial sepsis in Papua New Guinea.

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Goroka Hospital, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea.


Infections due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, especially gram-negative bacteria, are a common cause of child mortality in Papua New Guinea. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria include the enteric gram-negative bacilli, especially Escherichia coli, Klebsiella and Enterobacter, and Haemophilus influenzae type b, a major respiratory tract pathogen and cause of meningitis. Among these bacteria there is now high-level resistance to standard antibiotics, including chloramphenicol, amoxycillin and cotrimoxazole. Reasons behind the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are the widespread unregulated use of antibiotics and the very large burden of bacterial infections. Risk factors for development of resistant enteric gram-negative infections include village births, prolonged hospital stay, kwashiorkor in adopted children and previous treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics. Cost-effective strategies to combat these pathogens will need to be broad and must focus on reducing the use of antibiotics for trivial illnesses, reducing the need to use antibiotics and reducing the risk factors for resistant bacterial sepsis. There must be stricter regulation of commercial pharmacies, education of health workers on how to avoid inappropriate antibiotic prescribing, a focus on the prevention of pneumonia by immunization with new vaccines, improvements in the quality and uptake of formal maternal care services and public health measures within villages. In addition there is a need for better surveillance for antibiotic-resistant bacteria within hospitals; this will require substantial improvements in laboratory facilities and carefully planned research collaboration. A national committee should be established to advise on these matters and coordinate interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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