HPB warns against overuse of antibiotics | Daily News

HPB warns against overuse of antibiotics

Health authorities in Sri Lanka urge the public to prevent the arbitrary use of drugs, especially antibiotics.

The Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) of the Health Ministry warned people that taking antibiotics when they are not needed puts them at risk of a more virulent or longer infection, and urges people to take their doctor’s advice on antibiotics.

According to a statement released by the HPB, antibiotic resistance which leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality is also a hidden threat behind the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed thousands of lives prior to the emergence of the global outbreak.

With a pandemic on the scale of COVID-19, antimicrobial resistance has the potential to become a threat with the overuse of antibiotics. Antimicrobial resistance is majorly attributed to widespread and unnecessary use of antibiotics, among other causes, which has facilitated the emergence and spread of resistant pathogens.

According to various studies conducted worldwide, various antibiotics were recommended for use in the management of COVID-19. This is worrisome in that COVID-19 is a viral disease and only a few COVID-19 patients would have bacterial co-infection.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antimicrobial resistance occurs when pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi undergo changes and no longer respond to treatment making infections difficult to treat, thus increasing the risk of disease spread, poor outcomes, and mortality.

The WHO has emphasized that antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today and it can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.

Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process and a growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and salmonellosis – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.

Antibiotic resistance leads to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality.

In 2019, the WHO also identified this as one of the major threats facing healthcare systems. Antimicrobial resistance is a growing global health issue to which the present COVID-19 outbreak may contribute. Presently, the COVID-19 is ruling all aspects of healthcare globally; including health systems’ response to antimicrobial resistance and the impact will persist for a while, even after the pandemic.

The world urgently needs to change the way it prescribes and uses antibiotics. Even if new medicines are developed, without behaviour change, antibiotic resistance will remain a major threat. Behaviour changes must also include actions to reduce the spread of infections through vaccination, hand washing, practising safer sex, and good food hygiene.

Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases.

A growing list of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhoea, and food borne diseases – are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective.

Where antibiotics can be bought for human or animal use without a prescription, the emergence and spread of resistance is made worse. Similarly, in countries without standard treatment guidelines, antibiotics are often over-prescribed by health workers and veterinarians and over-used by the public.

Without urgent action, the world is heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill. Antibiotic resistance is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, as well as poor infection prevention and control. Steps can be taken at all levels of society to reduce the impact and limit the spread of resistance.

The WHO urges the public to only use antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional and never demand antibiotics if your health worker says you don’t need them; always follow the health worker’s advice when using antibiotics; never share or use leftover antibiotics; and prevent infections by regularly washing hands and preparing food hygienically.

The WHO also urges people to avoid close contact with sick people, practise safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date, follow the WHO Five Keys to Safer Food (keep clean, separate raw and cooked, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures, use safe water and raw materials) and choose foods that have been produced without the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or disease prevention in healthy animals.

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