Use antibiotics responsibly, urge health organisations

WHO warns 'urgent action' is needed to tackle global misuse of antibiotics

WHO warns 'urgent action' is needed to tackle global misuse of antibiotics

There are wide differences in consumption of antibiotics in different countries, shows data published today by the World Health Organization.

The "WHO Report on Surveillance of Antibiotic Consumption" looked at antibiotic use in 65 countries and found the Netherlands used 9.78 defined daily doses (DDD) per 1,000 people, while Britain used twice as much and Turkey nearly twice as much again, at 38.18 DDD per 1,000 inhabitants. These indicate that while some countries are probably overusing antibiotics, others may not even have sufficient access to the life-saving drugs.

But over the decades, bacteria have learned to fight back, building resistance to the same drugs that once reliably vanquished them.

This year, in the spirit of One Health, the WHO European Region will mark the 4th annual World Antibiotic Awareness Week on 12-18 November, by cohesively working together with different sectors to protect human, animal and environment health.

"Without effective antibiotics and other antimicrobials, we will lose our ability to treat common infections like pneumonia", says Dr Suzanne Hill, Director of the Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products at WHO.

Anti-microbial resistance occurs when bacteria are no longer affected by the antibiotics they were previously susceptible to or when micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses and some parasites stop the antimicrobials from working against them. Some of the prevention tips include only using antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional; never demand antibiotics if a health worker says you do not need them; always follow health worker's advice when using antibiotics or never share or use leftover antibiotics.

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"In addition, they should only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are truly needed, inform patients on how to use them appropriately, and educate patients on how to avoid common infections". More Australians reported awareness of the term "antibiotic resistance' in 2017 (74%) compared to 70% in 2014".

In Europe, the average consumption of antibiotics approach the 18 DDJ for 1 000 inhabitants per day, with the top of the Turkey (38 DDJ), which is nearly 5 times more than the last in the ranking, Azerbaijan (8 DDJ).

But within the region, Turkey, which ranked the highest at over 38 DDD, showed almost five times higher consumption than the lowest consumer-country Azerbaijan, which counted fewer than eight DDD. There was an nearly four-fold difference between the lowest- and highest-consuming country in this region. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result, according to the CDC.

Low consumption levels in some countries not only indicates that individuals have limited access to antibiotics but may also indicate weak systems for the supply of antibiotics.

Continuing pressure from consumers along with increasing frequency of resistance is pushing current antibiotic use techniques to the limits.

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