Consumers urged to stop misuse and abuse of antibiotics

16/11/2017 14:50

In light of the current Antibiotic Awareness Week, the Consumer Council of Fiji would like to urge consumers to be mindful when it comes to using antibiotics. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics threatens the usefulness of these drugs, causing a global health crisis with Antibiotic Resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is not just a problem for the person with the infection. Some resistant bacteria have the potential to spread to others, promoting antibiotic resistant infections. This, ultimately, leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays and increased death.

Consumers are reminded to always follow doctor’s advice on when and how to use antibiotics and only use antibiotics when they have been prescribed by a doctor. It is equally important to always take the full course of medication prescribed, even if the consumer feels better after a few days. Using antibiotics when not needed or not completing the prescribed course every time may mean that they would not work for individuals when they need it most in the future. 

The more antibiotics are used, the more chances bacteria have to become resistant to them. As resistance increases, more antibiotics will stop working and as a result, consumers will have very few treatment options.

It is important to note that antibiotics do not cure viral infections such as colds or flu, headaches and muscle pain. Using antibiotics for these symptoms will not help the consumer feel better.

Resistance happens when bacteria change to protect themselves from an antibiotic. These changes allow the bacteria to survive or 'resist' the antibiotic, so that the antibiotic no longer works to kill the bacteria or stop them from multiplying. ‘Superbugs' are bacteria that are resistant to several different antibiotics.

Decreasing the inappropriate use of antibiotics is a major strategy for controlling antibiotic resistance. Global action is required to combat this crisis for our public health services. Consumer understanding and action are critical to prevent the spread of ‘superbugs’ that are resistant to antibiotics.