How to stop antibiotic resistance? Here’s a WHO prescription

“We are speeding up the process dramatically by using antibiotics too much and often in the wrong contexts” says Marc Sprenger, Director of the WHO’s secretariat for antimicrobial resistance. His commentary is published today by WHO: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/commentaries/stop-antibiotic-resistance/en/

The prescription for action from WHO starts as follows:

‘Doctors, nurses, veterinarians and other health workers: Don’t prescribe or dispense antibiotics unless they are truly necessary and you have made all efforts to test and confirm which antibiotic your human patient or the animal you are treating should have. Today, it is estimated that in half of all cases, antibiotics are prescribed for conditions caused by viruses, where they do no good. You can also do more to prevent infections in the first place by ensuring your hands, instruments and environment are clean, and employing vaccines where appropriate.’

‘People using healthcare: Take antibiotics only when prescribed by a certified health professional, but also don’t be timid about asking if you feel you really need them. If you take an antibiotic, always complete the full prescription, even if you feel better, because stopping treatment early promotes the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.’

Yes, but I would emphasise that access to reliable information on medicines, in a form that is readily understandable, is a fundamental prerequisite for the above (both for health professionals and the general public). Given the enormity of the global threat of antimicrobial resistance, it is hard to understand why Information on Medicines For All is not seen as a priority. I was saddened and surprised to learn recently that the International Network for the Rational Use of Drugs have virtually ceased operations due to lack of funding. Who is now leading on this issue?

For more information on Information on Medicines for All, and the HIFA Working Group on Information for Prescribers and Users of Medicines, see:

http://www.hifa2015.org/prescribers-and-users-of-medicines/

Best wishes, Neil

Let’s build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare knowledge – Join HIFA: www.hifa2015.org  

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