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Patients in north Africa and the Middle East are using antibiotics in sharply rising quantities far beyond the global average, raising concerns over the escalating risks of resistance to medicines to treat bacterial infections. Estimated antibiotic consumption for 204 countries between 2000 and 2018 shows a 46 per cent increase in global antibiotic usage, with a surge in nations including India and Vietnam.

Numerous multicoloured pills

While many poorer countries have inadequate access to antibiotics, leading to unnecessary deaths through lack of adequate treatments, other middle and higher income countries are using volumes far beyond global norms.

The study, based on a combination of prescription data and statistical modelling, shows that the highest rate of consumption in a single country — measured as a defined daily dose per 1,000 people per day — is in Greece, at nearly 45.9, compared with a global average of 14.3 and an average of 21.1 in Western Europe.

There has also been a sharp rise in the Middle East, where antibiotics are often provided without prescriptions, which risks the development of bacterial strains resistant to drugs.

The data is based on work led by a team at the University of Oxford, with Professor Christiane Dolecek and Dr Annie Browne.

The full story is available on the Financial Times website

Read 'Global antibiotic consumption rates increased by 46 percent since 2000' on the University of Oxford website

Read the full publication ‘Global antibiotic consumption and usage in humans, 2000-2018: a spatial modelling study’ on the Lancet Planetary Health website

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