Background

As reported in 1998-9, infectious diseases continue to be a leading cause of death, accounting for a quarter to a third of the estimated 54 million deaths annually worldwide. Lower respiratory infections, diarrhoeal disease, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria were the leading causes of global infectious disease burden. While a decrease in diarrhoeal disease is projected for 2020, malaria is increasing and TB and HIV are growing far faster than projected (Gordon et al., 2000). For the new millennium, HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria are the leading infectious disease killers (WHO, 1999). Along with bioterrorism and homeland security, antimicrobial resistance has become one of the most important public health issues faced by the industrialised world, particularly G8 country members. Antimicrobial resistance typically develops when antibiotics are prescribed in inadequate amounts and/or for a condition that does not warrant their usage, such as for viral infections. It is estimated that annual cost of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria is US$4-5 billion (Harrison and Lederberg, 1998). In the United States, estimates exist for the overall economic impact of antimicrobial resistance in healthcare settings. These estimates need to be taken with caution since available data is imprecise and incomplete (McGowan, 2001).

Antibiotic Policies: Theory and Practice. Edited by Gould and van der Meer Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, 2005

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