Antibiotics are medicines that help stop infections caused by bacteria by killing the bacteria or preventing it from multiplying. They are prescribed by doctors to be used in a five, seven or 10-day course. However, many patients don’t complete the full course. By doing that, they allow the bacteria to reproduce in their bodies, making them resistant to medication. Surveillance indicators and laboratory figures have shown an increase in bacterial resistance, which calls for raising public awareness on the use of antibiotics.
Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, has warned against the misuse of antibiotics as it poses threat to public health.
“There are many patients who are prescribed antibiotics, but they don’t complete the full course, giving rise to a medication-resistant bacteria or virus.”
“Some ailments do not require antibiotics. Yet, they are used,” he said.
He urged people to refrain from treatment without the doctors’ prescription.
Dr Saif Salim al Abri, the Director-General of Diseases Control and Surveillance, said antibiotic resistance is threatening the effectiveness of treatment.
“Setback or even death is likely to occur especially for patients infected with drug-resistant bacterium.”
He said half a million people are infected with tuberculosis every year and the drug resistance is assuming the complexity of a fight against HIV and malaria worldwide.
Which means the bacteria is “adopting new survival methods” that repel doctors’ ability to cure common infectious diseases, leading to prolonged illness, disability and even death.
According to Dr Al Abri, medical procedures such as transplantation, chemotherapy, control of diabetes and major surgeries (Casarean section or hip replacement) can become dangerous without effective antibiotics to prevent and treat infections.
Besides, anti-microbial resistance raises the health care costs by prolonging hospital stays and increasing the need for intensive care.
The latest figures show by 2050, antibiotics would cause more deaths than cancer and road accidents combined. They are likely to inflict a financial and economic burden of more than $10 trillion. The proper use of antibiotics saves lives as well as a country’s spending on treatment. Even as calls are made to join efforts in this direction, doctors fear that standing still would take us back to the era of pre-discovery of antibiotics.
Zainab al Nassri