Malawi, CNN | In a sweltering room in Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Lilian Matchaya is expressing milk.
Her daughter, Abigail, is nearby, lying in a wooden cot with a UV light overhead keeping her at the right temperature.
Her head wrapped in a bandage, Abigail has a plastic feeding tube going into her nose.
Matchaya, 38, inserts a syringe of breast milk into the tube, and it travels slowly down the translucent pipe. The sounds of infants crying, machines beeping and nurses pushing trolleys fill the ward.
Abigail was born prematurely at seven months and weighed just 1.8 kilograms (3 pounds) at birth, little more than a bag of flour.
She needed an injection of aminophylline, which dilates the lung’s cells, to help her breathe, and the day after her birth, nurses found her passed out with blood in her stool.
Babies, especially those born prematurely, are especially vulnerable to infection, as their immune systems haven’t developed properly.
Doctors suspected that Abigail had sepsis, a serious and potentially fatal condition in which bacteria get into the bloodstream.
Lab results revealed that she was infected with a drug-resistant form of Klebsiella.
The bacteria were resistant to most of the drugs Abigail had been given, meaning the medications were not working to kill her infection …
More than half of infections are now resistant to the first-line antibiotics available in Malawi: penicillin, ampicillin, and chloramphenicol.
Resistance to a drug combination used to prevent HIV infections has also risen.
The study revealed soaring resistance to the two classes of antibiotics regularly stocked in Malawian hospitals, penicillins, and cephalosporins, among bacteria that commonly cause sepsis.
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