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Background: High levels of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are propagating deaths due to neonatal and paediatric infections globally. This is of particular concern in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, where healthcare resources are constrained and access to newer agents to treat multidrug-resistant pathogens is limited. Methods: To assess the coverage provided by commonly prescribed empiric antibiotic regimens for children in low- and middle-income countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, we built a weighted incidence syndromic combination antibiogram (WISCA), parameterised using data obtained from a systematic review of published literature incorporating WHO-defined SEARO and WPRO regions in Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, Global Health and PubMed. Susceptibility data for bacterial pathogens were extracted to provide coverage estimates for pre-specified antibiotics (aminopenicillins, gentamicin, third-generation cephalosporins and carbapenems), reported at the regional level. Findings: 6648 bacterial isolates from 11 countries across 86 papers were included in the Bayesian WISCA model, which weighted bacterial incidence and antimicrobial susceptibility of relevant isolates. Coverage provided by aminopenicillins in neonatal sepsis/meningitis was 26% (80% credible interval: 16–49) whilst gentamicin coverage was 45% (29–62). Third-generation cephalosporin coverage was only 29% (16–49) in neonatal sepsis/meningitis, 51% (38–64) in paediatric sepsis and 65% (51–77) in paediatric meningitis. Carbapenems were estimated to provide the highest coverage: 81% (65–90) in neonatal sepsis/meningitis, 83% (72–90) in paediatric sepsis and 79% (62–91) in paediatric meningitis. Interpretation: These findings reveal alarmingly high rates of resistance to commonly prescribed empirical therapies for neonatal and paediatric sepsis and meningitis in the Asia–Pacific region. Funding: This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [ 220211]. For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. PCMW is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant. NHMRC had no involvement in the design or conduct of the research.

Original publication




Journal article


The Lancet Regional Health - Southeast Asia

Publication Date