Antibiotic misuse: no action today, no cure tomorrow

April 20, 2021

The Global burden of infectious diseases is on the rise and also of great concern because of increasing drug resistance.

Antibiotics or antimicrobial agents are chemical substances used to kill bacteria and other pathogens. Prescriptions of antibiotics must be controlled and only be prescribed by qualified doctors but ironically, everyone is prescribing antibiotics even without knowledge. I have seen many prescriptions of antibiotics for mild and self limiting illnesses like cold and flu and sometimes it may be for some irrelevant conditions.

Self-medication is a human behavior in which an individual uses a substance or any exogenous influence to self-administer treatment for physical or psychological ailments. The most widely self-medicated substances are over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements, which are used to treat common health issues at home. It is very bad to see that people are taking antibiotics as over the counter medicines.

Antibiotic resistance is the condition when an antibiotic is unable to kill pathogens. Antibiotic resistance is one of the big concerns for present and for the future.

World Health Day is celebrated globally on 7 April to mark the founding of the World Health Organization and to raise awareness every year of a key global health issue. The theme for 2011 was "Antimicrobial resistance: no action today, no cure tomorrow" World Antibiotic Awareness Week, was between 12‒18 November 2018, conducted under the theme “Change Can’t Wait. Our Time with Antibiotics is Running Out”. The campaign aimed to target the general public, health professionals, governments, and the food, animal and agricultural sectors to raise awareness of the problem of antibiotic resistance and highlight the importance of the responsible use of antibiotics.

Antimicrobial resistance is not a new problem but one that is becoming more dangerous; urgent and consolidated efforts are needed to avoid regressing to the pre-antibiotic era. 

I am a pathologist and microbiologist and during my practice I see antibiotic resistance regularly but inFebruary 2021 I have seen some strange trend of antibiotic resistance. Some clinically important bacteria like Klebsiella and Pseudomonas showed resistance to all available antibiotics, pan drug
resistance. This was noticed in approximately 20 samples. This is a real alarm and we have to take necessary steps to stop the misuse of antibiotics otherwise after sometime we will have no option to kill these killer pathogens.

I have some suggestions to control antibiotic misuse:
1. Selling of antibiotics must be strictly monitored.
2. Avoid self medication and always consult a physician before taking any antibiotic.
3. Undue marketing of antibiotics should be stopped.
4. Antibiotic history should be part of the clinical history section and must be monitored.
5. A questionnaire to be framed for antibiotic prescribed and justification for every antibiotic
prescription should be mandatory.
6. Regular education and awareness for antibiotic use must be ensured.

It is my humble request to all that you should use antibiotics with physician’s advice only. Say no to self medications.

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  • Dr.Dr. Kamlesh Patel, Pathologist and Microbiologist

Dr. Kamlesh Patel 

April 20, 2021

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