The region, especially countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, has increased its reliance on antibiotics, and the rise in numbers is dramatic, according to a new report that is hailed as the most comprehensive yet, worldwide.
The center measured antibiotic consumption in standard units, defined as the equivalent of one pill, capsule or ampoule. They divided reported numbers of standard units use by estimates of countries’ population, obtained from the World Bank, to get their data. To allow for easier comparison across countries, their graphics count standard units per 1,000 population (1000/pop).
In Saudi Arabia, for instance, all antibiotics use amounted to 25,171 standard units per 1000/pop in 2000. By 2010, this number rose to 32,272. The interactive maps, classified by country, can simultaneously track the use for several types of antibiotics, including broad and narrow spectrum penicillins, among others.
In Egypt, antibiotic drug intake experienced a similar hike, the figures climbed from 16,654 standard units per 1000/pop in 2000 to 24,734 by 2010.
Information regarding resistance to the drugs, however, is absent for this region, perhaps because of restricted access to data. Daniel Sahm, chief scientific officer at International Health Management Associates in Schaumburg, Illinois, tells Nature magazine that the new analysis “might contain holes: an argument for more-aggressive surveillance,” noting that it is difficult to gather data in developing countries.