ISLAMABAD: Increased use of antibiotics has led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which causes 71pc of the infections that newborns in Pakistan suffer from, according to infectious diseases consultant Dr Ejaz Khan.

Dr Khan was speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday titled ‘Antibiotic resistance: Act today for a safer tomorrow’.

He said that antibiotics are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs and that 50pc of the antibiotics used are not prescribed by doctors. Because patients use the medicines without being advised to by doctors, they take the wrong dose for the wrong durations.

According to the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) viruses can change according to medicines and grow resistant to them. In the past, viruses could be killed with low potency medicines and killing the same virus now requires higher potency medicines.

Dr Khan, who is a former president of the Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan, said that antibiotic resistance occurs when a bacteria mutates to resist the effects of an antibiotic.

He said resistance to antibiotics is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics and by poor infection prevention and control. Physicians, health workers, pharmacists, policymakers and agriculturists can help spread awareness about the appropriate use of antibiotic usage, he added.

Explaining the consequences of antibiotic resistance, associate consultant microbiologist Dr Mohammad Usman said that some of the resistant infections can cause severe illnesses. Patients with these infections require increased recovery time, and increased medical expenses, and that they could die if the infection is not treated properly.

“We have to ensure cautious use of antibiotics as their use is the biggest factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world,” he said. Pharmacists and healthcare system consultant Dr Shafqat Ali Hamdani said that research by the United States indicates that 2 million people suffer from serious infections each year from bacteria which are resistant to one or more antibiotics. He added that 23,000 people die every year from antibiotic resistant infections.

“People should only use antibiotics when they are prescribed by a certified health professional and should always take the full prescription, never use leftover antibiotics and not share antibiotics with others,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2016

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