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Seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics

Pratima Upreti

“The right drugs for the right bugs.” Antibiotic is a crucial, life saving drugs in the fight against infectious disease but resistance to antibiotics is growing all over. It was originally produced by one microorganism that selectively inhibits the growth of another and has no effect on viral infection like cold and flu.

The main theme of the antibiotic awareness is “Always seek advice from a qualified health care professional before taking antibiotics”. As per the theme, if we are taking the antibiotic then we should follow the directions provided by healthcare professionals and complete the recommended dose, frequency and duration of antibiotic use.

Following such directions may help to avoid the emergence of  antibiotic resistance. Global and national concern about antibiotic resistance is an all time high issue. At least 7 lakhs people around the world die from infectious superbugs that are resistance to the antibiotics, and WHO has predicted that it may rise to 10 million by 2050. This serious global threat can be minimized through the awareness about the rational use of antibiotics at different social level.

Every year in November, many different countries have been conducting antibiotics awareness week to raise awareness about the antibiotic resistance in microbes and to highlight the correct use of antibiotics among the general public, health workers and policy makers. They have been striving for avoiding the further emergence and spread of antibiotics resistance through effective communication, education and training. This action reflects the overarching message that antibiotics are precious resources and should be preserved for long time effectiveness. To meet the goal of antibiotic awareness, one should use antibiotic only after prescription made by a qualified healthcare professional. Responsible use of antibiotics, it not only ensures us the best treatment, but also helps to reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics are amongst the most frequently prescribed medications in modern medicine. Today, over 100s different antibiotics are available to cure minor, moderate and life threatening infections. Although there are enough antibiotics, the majority come from only a few types of drugs. Since discovery of penicillin, the first antibiotic, resistance has been a growing problem at every stage of years with its irrational use. Discovery of newer antibiotics is not the only solution for the consequent resistance unless used optimally and rationally.

If we go through the present global condition, the antibiotic resistance threat is increasing massively each day or minutes by minutes. Now antibiotics are being easily resisted by the microbes, instead of killing them. It seems like microbes are eating antibiotic rather than antibiotic eating them. The prime reasons behind such threats are- empirical therapies for infections, self prescription practice, limited availability, antibiotic residues in animal products (milk, meat) and irrational use of antibiotics. To prevent from this serious threat, one should take antibiotics after proper identification of pathogens followed by their antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST). This test can play a vital role to select a specific drug for a particular microbial pathogen, and it may minimize the chance of further antibiotic resistance.

Overall, taking advice from a qualified healthcare professional helps to encourage behavioral changes among the people and convey the message that even a simple action can make a big difference for the global cause of minimizing the antibiotic resistance.

(Upreti, a CMLT student of School of Medical Sciences, Banasthali, Kathmandu. This essay stood as the second in the essay writing competition organized by NPHF-collaborative project GARP on the occasion of antibiotic awareness week-2017)

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