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ObjectivesTo review the scientific evidence base on antimicrobial use (AMU) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in human and animal sectors in the Lao PDR (Laos).MethodsWe reviewed all publications from July 1994 (the first article describing AMR in Laos) to December 2020. Electronic searches were conducted using Google Scholar and PubMed with specific terms relating to AMR and AMU in Lao, French and English languages.FindingsWe screened 1,357 peer-reviewed and grey reports by title and abstract and then full articles/reports. Of 80 included, 66 (83%) related to human health, nine (11%) to animal health, four (5%) to both animal and human health and one (1%) to the environment. Sixty-two (78%) were on AMR and 18 (22%) on AMU. Extended spectrum beta lactamase-producing Escherichia coli was the greatest concern identified; the proportion of isolates increased fivefold from 2004 to 2016 (2/28 (7%) to 27/78 (35%)) from blood cultures submitted to the Microbiology Laboratory, Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane. Carbapenem resistant Escherichia coli was first identified in 2015. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was uncommon, with 15 cases of MRSA from blood cultures between its first identification in 2017 and December 2020. AMR patterns of global antimicrobial resistance surveillance system (GLASS) target pathogens from livestock were less well documented. There were few data on AMU in human health and none on AMU in livestock. The first hospital AMU survey in Laos showed that 70% (1,386/1,981) of in-patients in five hospitals from 2017 to 2018 received antimicrobial(s). Antibiotic self-medication was common.ConclusionAMR in Laos is occurring at relatively low proportions for some GLASS pathogens, giving the country a window of opportunity to act quickly to implement strategies to protect the population from a worsening situation. Urgent interventions to roll out new guidelines with enhanced one-health antibiotic stewardship, reduce antibiotic use without prescriptions, enhance surveillance and improve understanding of AMU and AMR are needed.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Global Health



Publication Date





e007009 - e007009