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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The general public's knowledge and understanding of risks of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance is low!

Contributed by Dr. Akilesh Ramasamy & Dr. Tamhankar

CDC Year in Review: “Mission: Critical” (1)
CDC lists antibiotic resistance as 2nd in its list "Mission:critical" published on December 15, 2014. The first concern listed is Ebola. WHO has since many years listed antibiotic resistance as a global concern.

Does the attitude of people have a role in this spread of antibiotic resistance and irrational use of antibiotics ? Do the general public have adequate knowledge and understanding of risks of antibiotic resistance ?

To find an answer to this question, researchers from George Washington, Cornell and Johns Hopkins universities conducted a small study in which they surveyed 113 patients in an urban hospital to test their understanding of antibiotics.(2)
The study, "Germs Are Germs, and Why Not Take a Risk? Patients’ Expectations for Prescribing Antibiotics In an Inner-City Emergency Department", reveals that people may want antibiotics even when they know antibiotics are not useful against viral infections.

The abuse of antibiotics is widespread and rampant. Health education does not seem to promote adequate awareness of the risks of irrational antibiotic use. More aggressive awareness campaigns against antibiotic resistance is the need of the hour. In addition, healthcare providers must refrain from irrational antibiotic use. They must never prescribe antibiotics "on demand" by the patients. Antibiotic stewardship programs must be sustained at healthcare organizations.

In countries like India, where many antibiotics are available over the counter (OTC), this is an issue of greater concern.

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