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WHO initiative aims to curb growing global antibiotic resistance

Filed on November 17, 2019
WHO initiative aims to curb growing global antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and even more deaths.

Overuse or not following professional advice is leading to a global rise in resistance.

The World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) will begin today with an aim to increase global awareness on antibiotic resistance.

The campaign, which runs until November 24, will encourage best practices among the public, health workers and policymakers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.

Dr Nada Al Mulla, family medicine physician and head of Nad Al Hammar health centre, said: "The main message is to prevent its overuse. Antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections only. Antibiotics cannot treat viral infections. More than 90 per cent of the cases we see in the winter months including flu, bronchitis, cold, and cough are viral infections and do not need to be treated with antibiotics."

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and even more deaths. WHO recommends always following the advice of a healthcare practitioner when it comes to antibiotic use.

WHO initiative aims to curb growing global antibiotic resistance (KT223971117.JPG)

"Some patients stop their antibiotics prematurely once their fever or other symptoms resolve. A partially treated infection can rebound and the bacteria might become resistant. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics can't fight them, and the bacteria multiply," said Dr Hanan Sheikh Ibrahim, internist/geriatrician, Medical Subspecialties Institute, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

"We recommend that patients follow antibiotic courses prescribed by their physicians. There has been a lot of research into how long antibiotic courses should be to determine the shortest possible length of course needed to completely kill all bacteria.

"Taking antibiotics without indication might alter your immunity and can cause diarrhea, liver damage, allergic reaction, rash and many other side-effects," she added.

Dr Tope Titilayo Odofa, head of the emergency department at the RAK Hospital, said: "The inappropriate use of antibiotics has become quite a trend in the UAE. It is highly due to self-medication.

"The community should be educated on the need to see a healthcare provider before administering such medications. Specific criteria for prescribing antibiotics are used by healthcare providers, but seem lacking in pharmacies."

Dr. Vedrana Vizjak, specialist internal medicine, Zulekha Hospital Sharjah, said: "It is very common for patients to try and self-medicate at home, usually with antibiotics, as the majority of infections are actually viral and should not be treated with antibiotics, patients do not feel better and come to our clinic for help. Also, some patients fail to complete the course of antibiotic when prescribed, which adds to increased antibiotic resistance and difficulties in further management."

Vizjak advices patients should take only symptomatic medicines at home (tablets for pain, fever, for blocked nose, cough) and even that with caution. "If you don't feel better after this, please come and visit a doctor and let them decide if antibiotic is necessary. If it is, the doctor should decide on the kind of antibiotic, dosage and duration as all of this can affect the efficacy of treatment. When antibiotic is prescribed, always complete the course of medication and do not share your medicine with anybody as it may be inappropriate in dosage, frequency and duration," added Vizjak.

Endorsing similar view, Dr Jyoti Upadhyay, Specialist Internal Medicine, Aster Hospital Mankhool, said: "It is a recurring trend that patients coming to hospital with various ailments have already been started on antibiotics by the general practitioner in clinic, dispensed over the counter by pharmacists or self medication from a remnant previous stock  and these are started empirically without any cultures being collected. Sometimes the choice of antibiotic and the dose is inappropriate and when the patients come with a worsening health condition it becomes difficult to decide how to proceed with treatment.

Dr Upadhyay pointed out that  as per WHO Reports, we are under a major threat created by bacterial resistance to antibiotics due to mindless prescribing and this is going to render many antibiotics less effective. "Patients must seek medical opinion prior to initiating antibiotics and general practitioners must culture patients prior to prescribing anti microbial," she added.

In recent times, the incidence of antibiotic resistance has been increasing.Resistance to commonly-used antibiotics for treating harmful bacteria related to a variety of stomach conditions has more than doubled in 20 years, new research presented recently at UEG Week Barcelona 2019 has shown. The study, which analysed 1,232 patients from 18 countries across Europe. 

According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic resistance is a top threat to the public's health and a priority across the globe. In the US alone, it causes more than 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths per year. Worldwide, antibiotic resistance threatens the progress in healthcare, food production, and ultimately life expectancy. CDC says that modern travel of people, animals, and goods means antibiotic resistance can easily spread across borders and continents. Collaborative, coordinated efforts globally are needed to help slow the development and spread of antibiotic resistance and protect people. -



Sandhya D'Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.

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