WHO report cautions against antibiotics overuse worldwide

Maricruz Casares
Noviembre 13, 2018

The misuse of antibiotic is putting us all at risk.

The WHO report, which is based on data for 2015 is collected in 65 countries and regions, shows a significant difference in consumption, which is 4 doses defined daily (DDJ) per 1 000 inhabitants per day in Burundi to more than 64 in Mongolia.

Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics saved tens of millions of lives by effectively fighting those diseases triggered by bacteria, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and meningitis, among others. 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.

Amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, a penicillin type antibiotic used in conjunction with amoxicillin under the brand name Augmentin, are the most frequently used antibiotics. "Without effective antibiotics many routine treatments will become increasingly risky".

The report finds that in 49 countries, the Access category represents more than 50 percent of antibiotic consumption, while the use of the Watch category has ranged from less than 20 percent of total antibiotic consumption in some countries to more than 50 percent in others.

However, the World Health Organization acknowledges that its report is incomplete because it does not include, for example, that four African countries, three from the Near East and six from the Asia-Pacific region. It will help countries raise awareness of appropriate antimicrobial use, inform policy and regulatory changes to optimize use, and improve the procurement and supply of medicines.

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The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has directed the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), the Pharmacy Council and the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Council (TAMC) to take urgent steps to stop the activities of unqualified persons who sell anti-microbials to unsuspecting members of the public.

Data presented in this first report varies widely in quality and completeness. Sixteen of these countries have contributed to this first report and many more are expected to contribute to the global data in the next few years.

The organisation's Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System unveiled earlier this year spoke of the widespread occurrence of antibiotic resistance.

According to WHO, the 2018 World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) campaign seeks to provide greater flexibility to regions and countries to reflect their unique priorities, target specific levels of awareness and their specific audiences.

Only 61% of those surveyed say they are aware that bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics can be spread from person to person. But their overuse and misuse has created a new challenge in anti-microbial resistance, where bacteria and other microbes become resistant to the effects of anti-microbials. Resistance can occur when people cannot afford a full course of treatment or only have access to substandard or falsified medicines.

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