Antibiotic resistance has been linked to poor governance and corruption around the world and not a country's wealth. "It is a finding that will be surprising to most people in the field of Medicine," said International Prof Peter Collignon, who led the research published in PLOS ONE.
Co-author International A/Prof Sanjaya Senanayake said that countries with higher levels of corruption often had less rigorous and less transparent processes, with less effective controls over areas pertinent to antibiotic resistance.
These include factors that affect antibiotic usage and the ways antibiotic-resistant bacteria spread via water, foods and poor infection control," he said.
"In countries with greate r corruption, antibiotic usage may also be much higher than what is recorded. If governance and control of corruption can be improved, this can be an important factor in reversing high levels of antibiotic resistance."
The team found that resistance levels were higher when healthcare was performed by the private sector. "This may be because clinicians in the private health system are subject to fewer controls when it comes to both the volumes and types of antibiotics used," Senanayake said. "If more appropriate prescribing and better antimicrobial stewardship were to take place, that will likely result in lower levels of antibiotic resistance."