As part of a series of activities to mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week, held 12 to 19 November, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is advising the public that incorrect use, especially overuse, of antibiotics is making a growing number of infections harder to treat.
“Antibiotic resistance is becoming one of the biggest threats to global health according to the World Health Organization. We need to change the way in which people view and use antibiotics,” said Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, who chaired a plenary session on antibiotic resistance during the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in Doha this week.
“The need to reduce antibiotic resistance is being addressed within the Enhanced Health Protection priority area of Qatar’s National Health Strategy 2018-2022. Antibiotic resistance not only threatens the effective prevention and treatment of infections, but also contributes to higher medical costs, longer hospital stays, and increased mortality,” added Her Excellency Dr. Al Kuwari.
Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal, HMC’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Head of Infectious Diseases, said antibiotics are medicines that are used to treat or prevent infections, but he warned against their misuse.
“Antibiotics are an essential part of many patients’ treatment plans as they work by stopping the growth of bacteria that may be causing a problem in the body. When antibiotics are used incorrectly they can become less effective. Incorrect use of antibiotics, especially overuse, is making it harder to treat many infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and salmonellosis, as the antibiotics are becoming less effective,” added Dr. Al Khal.
According to Dr. Muna Al Maslamani, Medical Director of HMC’s Communicable Disease Center, in recent year’s antibiotic resistance has risen to dangerously high levels across the world.
“Every day, our clinicians are witnessing the damaging effects of antibiotic resistance which threaten our ability to treat common infectious diseases,’’ said Dr. Al Maslamani.
Most illnesses are caused by two kinds of germs: bacteria or viruses. Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections only – they cannot cure viral infections, as Dr. Hisham Ziglam, Senior Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Hamad General Hospital explained.
“Bacteria are the cause of issues such as a sore throat, some types of pneumonia, and sinus infections, while viral infections include common colds, most coughs, and the flu. It is vitally important that the public understand that using antibiotics for a viral infection will not cure the infection, help you feel better or prevent others from catching your illness,” said Dr. Ziglam.
Throughout World Antibiotic Awareness Week, HMC is educating the public about antibiotic resistance and advising people how to take antibiotics responsibly. Dr. Ziglam says it is part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the key issues that are contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistance and putting people’s health at risk.
“It is essential that people understand that if they regularly misuse antibiotics they are putting their health at risk, because when they really need antibiotics for a serious condition, they may not work effectively,” said Dr. Ziglam.
HMC is offering the following advice to ensure people take antibiotics responsibly:
- Inform your physician of any allergies you have prior to receiving any antibiotics.
- Women should inform their doctor if they are pregnant.
- Be sure to take the complete course of antibiotics prescribed according to the physician's instructions, even if you feel better.
- Never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.
- Do not reuse any of your old prescriptions.
- Store antibiotics properly and as instructed.