In observance of the Generics Awareness Month for September, the Department of Health (DOH) Bicol urged the public to refrain from overusing or misusing antibiotics by taking in antibiotic medicines without the doctor’s prescription or discontinuing use before the specified date. This is to prevent the spread of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) wherein the microorganisms exposed to antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics develop a resistance from medicines.
DOH warns that misusing antibiotics would render medicines ineffective and let infections persist in the body, which can increase the risk of spread to others. AMR also threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi.
DOH 5 Regional Director Napoleon Arevalo cited that “without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery would be compromised.”
He also added that the cost of health care for patients with resistant infections is higher than care for patients with non-resistant infections due to longer duration of illness, additional tests and use of more expensive drugs.
To strengthen the thrust of preventing AMRs, DOH conducts Philippine Antibiotic Awareness Week every November. Meanwhile in Bicol, DOH Pharmacist III, Maribel Cruz, also started to integrate lectures on AMR on most programs of the DOH Bicol to further spread the advocacy.
“The best we could do is be strict with prescriptions, and conduct more information caravans so we can convince people to change their behavior when it comes to taking antibiotics,” said Cruz.
In 2016, 490 000 people developed multi-drug resistant TB (MDRTB) globally, extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), a form of tuberculosis that is resistant to at least 4 of the core anti-TB drugs, has been identified in 105 countries, as data from World Health Organization (WHO).
Meanwhile, records from 2017 registered a total of 368 people in Bicol region afflicted with MDRTB and mostly affects people from ages 25 to 54, especially males.
WHO revealed that drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria, as well.
DOH advises the public to always consult with a doctor before taking in antibiotics, follow and finish the correct regimen when taking the medicine, and desist from giving excess antibiotics to others. Additionally, it is recommended to cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing to prevent bacteria from spreading.