Hyderabad: While antimicrobial resistance is a growing global threat, the knowledge alone is not enough to combat it. In the wake of the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week, which was observed from November 16 to 22, the World Health Organisation stated that there was need for more evidence to create effective policies to control it.
Around 64 per cent of some 10,000 people who were surveyed across 12 countries said they knew antibiotic resistance was an issue that could affect them and their families, but they did not know how to address this problem.
For example, 64 per cent of the respondents believed that antibiotics could be used to treat colds and flu, despite the fact that antibiotics have no impact on viruses.
Close to one-third (32 per cent) of those surveyed believed they should stop taking antibiotics when they felt better, rather than completing the prescribed course of treatment.
Also, 75 per cent of the respondents felt that farmers and poultry farm owners should not give antibiotics to food-producing products as it created resistance.
While the survey gives an insight into the actual knowledge of the people, to make effective policies it is also important to draw a line where antibiotics must not be used.
Professor of medicine Dr K. Narsimulu said, “There are guidelines which state clearly when antibiotics must be used, but they are poorly understood. In the Indian scenario, there is too much pressure on doctors as those who do not prescribe antibiotics are considered not very effective. Hence apart from medical there are social factors too.”
There is a strong need according to doctors to create awareness about the misuse of antibiotics and also for people to understand that it is “not the human body which will be resistant, but the bacteria”. Also, Indian data is too limited and if there is a need to create proper evidence than proper steps must be followed.
According to the experts who conducted the WHO study, there is a need for “action but it can be taken up only when there is documented evidence to create an effective policy to control the threat’.
93% buy drugs over the counter
In terms of buying antibiotics, 81 per cent of those surveyed by WHO stated that they used prescriptions by doctors, but 93 per cent said that they bought them over the counter.
The survey also found that 43 per cent of people thought that it was acceptable to buy the same antibiotics when they were sick with the same symptoms as before prescribed by the doctor.
Senior government doctor Dr G. Sampath said, “This kind of behaviour is resulting into improper use of antibiotics. In India, there are rising cases of multi-drug resistant bacteria. We need to collect and tabulate this data so that people understand this threat. With insufficient development of new antibiotics, gram-negative microorganisms are growing strong.”
“We need to have a new line of drugs before this bacteria reaches unprecedented proportions. Hence it is very important to address this public health crisis.”
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