Antibiotic Use in Low and Middle-Income Countries and the Challenges of Antimicrobial Resistance in Surgery

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a phenomenon resulting from the natural evolution of microbes. Nonetheless, human activities accelerate the pace at which microorganisms develop and spread resistance. AMR is a complex and multidimensional problem, threatening not only human and animal health, but also regional, national, and global security, and the economy. Inappropriate use of antibiotics, and poor infection prevention and control strategies are contributing to the emergence and dissemination of AMR. All healthcare providers play an important role in preventing the occurrence and spread of AMR. The organization of healthcare systems, availability of diagnostic testing and appropriate antibiotics, infection prevention and control practices, along with prescribing practices (such as over-the-counter availability of antibiotics) differs markedly between high-income countries and low and middle-income countries (LMICs). These differences may affect the implementation of antibiotic prescribing practices in these settings. The strategy to reduce the global burden of AMR includes, among other aspects, an in-depth modification of the use of existing and future antibiotics in all aspects of medical practice. The Global Alliance for Infections in Surgery has instituted an interdisciplinary working group including healthcare professionals from different countries with different backgrounds to assess the need for implementing education and increasing awareness about correct antibiotic prescribing practices across the surgical pathways. This article discusses aspects specific to LMICs, where pre-existing factors make surgeons’ compliance with best practices even more important.

Intestinal Perforations Associated With a High Mortality and Frequent Complications During an Epidemic of Multidrug-resistant Typhoid Fever in Blantyre, Malawi

Typhoid fever remains a major source of morbidity and mortality in low-income settings. Its most feared complication is intestinal perforation. However, due to the paucity of diagnostic facilities in typhoid-endemic settings, including microbiology, histopathology, and radiology, the etiology of intestinal perforation is frequently assumed but rarely confirmed. This poses a challenge for accurately estimating burden of disease.

We recruited a prospective cohort of patients with confirmed intestinal perforation in 2016 and performed enhanced microbiological investigations (blood and tissue culture, plus tissue polymerase chain reaction [PCR] for Salmonella Typhi). In addition, we used a Poisson generalized linear model to estimate excess perforations attributed to the typhoid epidemic, using temporal trends in S. Typhi bloodstream infection and perforated abdominal viscus at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital from 2008–2017.

We recruited 23 patients with intraoperative findings consistent with intestinal perforation. 50% (11/22) of patients recruited were culture or PCR positive for S. Typhi. Case fatality rate from typhoid-associated intestinal perforation was substantial at 18% (2/11). Our statistical model estimates that culture-confirmed cases of typhoid fever lead to an excess of 0.046 perforations per clinical typhoid fever case (95% CI, .03–.06). We therefore estimate that typhoid fever accounts for 43% of all bowel perforation during the period of enhanced surveillance.

The morbidity and mortality associated with typhoid abdominal perforations are high. By placing clinical outcome data from a cohort in the context of longitudinal surgical registers and bacteremia data, we describe a valuable approach to adjusting estimates of the burden of typhoid fever.