Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine, However, up to 50% of the time antibiotics are not optimally prescribed, often done so when not needed or incorrect dosing or duration,’ said health experts in briefing arranged by Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan (MMIDSP), “Antibiotic Resistance: Act Today for a Safer Tomorrow”.
They said that in Pakistan, 71% of infections in newborns are from Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (ARB) whereas in India, an estimated 58,000 neonatal sepsis deaths are attributable to drug resistant infections.
Dr. Bushra Jamil, HOD Infectious diseases at Agha Khan University Hospital said, ‘Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic. It occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The resistant bacteria then survive and continue to multiply, causing more harm, and spreading to other persons as well.’
Explaining the consequences she added that some resistant infections cause severe illness. People with these infections may require increased recovery time, tend to incur increased medical expenses, or may die from the infection if not treated properly.
Dr. Sunil Dodani, Senior Consultant Infectious Diseases at SIUT, said that antibiotics are commonly used in animals that are used as food to prevent, control, and treat disease, and to promote the growth of food-producing animals.
‘We have to ensure cautious use of antibiotics as the use of antibiotics is the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. An antibiotic is a type of drug that kills or stops the growth of bacteria only. Antibiotics do not have any effect on viruses.’ he reasoned.
Dr. Samreen Sarfaraz, senior Infectious Diseases Consultant at Indus Hospital, referred to a research case study of United States which says that 2 million people acquire serious infections with bacteria every year that are resistant to one or more of the antibiotics designed to treat the infections. 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these antibiotic-resistant infections.
She said that as many as 2,184 patients hospitalized with pneumococcal pneumonia in 11 Asian countries in 2008-2009 found that high-level penicillin resistance was rare, that resistance to erythromycin was highly prevalent (72.7%), and that multi-drug resistance (MDR) was observed for 59.3% of S. pneumonia isolates.
While talking about the prevention of antibiotic resistance experts highlighted that it is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, as well as poor infection prevention and control. Physicians, health workers, pharmacists, policy makers and agriculturists can help spread awareness about appropriate antibiotic usage.
‘General public should only use antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional and should always take the full prescription; never using left-over antibiotics; and never sharing antibiotics with others,’ concluded health experts.