Doha, 18 November, 2020: To recognize World Antimicrobial Awareness Week from 18 to 24 November, experts at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) are advising the public that incorrect use, especially overuse, of antibiotics is making a growing number of infections harder to treat.
The problem of antimicrobial or antibiotic resistance has been recognized worldwide as one of the greatest threats to human health, animal health, food security, and development. It has been estimated that 10 million people per year will die by 2050 due to infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria unless action is taken.
“Antibiotics are powerful medicines that are used to treat or prevent infections. They 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,” said Dr. Muna Al Maslamani, Medical Director of HMC’s Communicable Disease Center.
“However, when antibiotics are used incorrectly, they can become less effective. This is known as antibiotic or antimicrobial resistance and is becoming one of the biggest threats to global health according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Incorrect use of antibiotics, especially overuse, is making it harder to treat many infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and salmonellosis, as the antibiotics are becoming less effective,” added Dr. Al Maslamani.
“In recent years antibiotic resistance has risen to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world, and Qatar is no different. Every day, our clinicians are witnessing the damaging effects of antibiotic resistance which threaten our ability to treat common infectious diseases and as we continue to battle COVID-19, it is important to take strong steps now, both here in Qatar and internationally,” said Dr. Al Maslamani.
According to Dr. Hisham Ziglam, Senior Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Stewardship Lead at HMC, most illnesses are caused by two kinds of germs, bacteria, or viruses.
“Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections only – they cannot cure viral infections.
Bacteria are the cause of issues such as 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 Antimicrobial Awareness Week HMC is seeking to educate both the public and healthcare professionals about antibiotic resistance. HMC is also advising the community on how to take antibiotics responsibly and what steps they can take to reduce antimicrobial resistance.
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 as instructed.
- Continue to practice strict hand hygiene and other infection control measures.
“Now more than ever it’s important to take these steps. We want 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.