BANGKOK, Sept 7 Drug-resistant bacterial
infections are increasing in Thailand because of poor policy and
an absence of regulation and are killing more than 19,000 people
a year compared with 23,000 a year in the United States,
researchers warned on Wednesday.
The problem, largely caused by the over-use of antibiotics
among people and livestock, could hit Thailand's profitable
"Drug resistant bacteria is spreading in Thailand and, very
likely, in all low and middle income countries," Direk
Limmathurotsakul, lead author of a study by Britain's Oxford
University and Mahidol University in Thailand, told Reuters.
The researchers estimated that drug-resistant bacterial
infections killed 19,122 people in Thailand in 2010.
When adjusted for population, the problem was much more
severe than in the United States and the European Union, where
about 25,000 people die a year from such infections.
People in Thailand can buy antibiotics over the counter and
many take them "without really needing them", fueling bacterial
resistance, Direk said.
The excessive use of anti-bacterial drugs by farmers also
"generates antimicrobial resistant bacteria in the environment".
"The impact of drug-resistant bacterial infections is
already considerable - and getting worse," said study co-author
Nick Day of Oxford University.
"If it's not to overwhelm ... the world's economic, health
and life expectancy gains, we need to take drug resistance
seriously and invest heavily in its defeat - now," he said.
About 2.5 million foreigners visit Thailand every year for
health services and Direk said that while private hospitals
"have enough resources" to address the situation now, the sector
could be affected in future if authorities did not take the
fight against drug-resistant bacteria seriously.
"Private hospitals have to admit patients from all over the
world, who could have already had drug-resistant bacteria with
them," he said.
"All sectors and all countries need to tackle the problems
together as this is a global problem."
(Reporting by Cod Satrusayang and Pairat Temphairojana; Editing
by Robert Birsel)