Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia’s antibiotic resistance high: study

Cambodia’s antibiotic resistance high: study

A woman packs antibiotics in a Phnom Penh. Physicians have admitted to overprescribing antibiotics, a problem that a new study suggests may be leading to antibiotic resistance.
A woman packs antibiotics in a Phnom Penh. Physicians have admitted to overprescribing antibiotics, a problem that a new study suggests may be leading to antibiotic resistance. Pha Lina

Cambodia’s antibiotic resistance high: study

A new study by Cambodia’s Pasteur Institute reveals worryingly high, and increasing, levels of antibiotics resistance in the Kingdom, likely as a result of overprescribing medication.

“In Cambodia, the misuse of antibiotics is a known phenomenon, but there is little data on microbial resistance,” reads a Tuesday press release accompanying the study.

To rectify this data gap, the Institute conducted a four-year study to examine the frequency of “extended-spectrum beta-lactamase producing enterobacteria (ESBL)”, a type of bacteria resistant to many types of antibiotics.

“When I arrived in Cambodia in 2012 . . . I was surprised to see in the urine of Cambodian patients a lot of resistant bacteria, with a frequency much higher than that observed in France,” Dr Alexandra Kerleguer, from the Institute’s medical Biology Unit, said.

The Institute collected samples at Calmette and Choy Ray hospitals, including blood, stool, urine and more.

The results showed not only a high rate of ESBL in Cambodia, but that it is continually growing.

The total proportion of ESBLs increased from nearly 24 percent more than 38 percent from the start of 2012 until December 2015, with E. coli in particular seeing a marked increase, from nearly 29 percent to more than 48 percent.

The report by Kerleguer and others claimed the change was “a gradual and statistically significant increase”.

“The most commonly identified strains were E. coli and K. pneumoniae, present in 77% and 19% of positive isolates, respectively,” the report says.

The report notes that there was no significant statistical difference in data from Calmette, a national hospital, and Choy Ray, a community clinic. The authors said it was “especially . . . cause for serious local and international concern” that resistance levels were so high in the clinic, where patients should not have had as much exposure to medication as at a national referral hospital like Calmette.

“The indiscriminate use of fluoroquinolones has increased resistance to these molecules significantly,” the paper argues, referring to a particular type of antibiotic used or a variety of infections.

The paper advocated for a “dual strategy” in reducing the problem, calling for fewer antibiotics prescriptions and higher hygiene standards both within hospitals themselves, and in communities in general.

The prescription of certain antibiotics must “be strictly and continuously supervised to prevent the emergence of multi-resistant bacteria”.

The authors said the industry must focus both on less use, and “better use” by “prioritizing the use of molecules that exert the weakest selection pressure”.

“This is a considerable challenge in Cambodia, a country where even fluoroquinolones are available over the counter, dispensed for a day or two at a time, and where physicians and pharmacists are known to misuse or overuse these antibiotics which are considered ‘much more effective’,” the study

The paper concludes by saying the prevalence and spread of ESBLs is a “public health concern” and warning that there is a “very real risk of a therapeutic dead-end”, whereby these diseases can no longer be treated.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia to waive quarantine requirements Nov 15, no PCR test required

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has decided to lift all quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and visitors – both Cambodians and foreign nationals – effective from November 15 onward. In a special message addressed to officials and relevant authorities on November 14, Hun Sen said this policy will enable

  • PM: No more quarantine for vaccinated travellers

    Cambodia is lifting all quarantine requirements for vaccinated inbound travellers entering Cambodia by air, waterway or land border checkpoints effective from November 15. Travellers will be required to take a rapid antigen test on arrival rather than waiting for the results of the lengthier polymerase chain

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration