Stopping the spread of antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, as well as poor infection prevention and control. However, steps can be taken at all levels of society—each and every one of us to reduce the impact and limit the spread of resistance.

So what can you as an individual do prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance? First of all only use antibiotics prescribed by a certified health professional. Don’t just pop antibiotics because you have some in your cupboard from a treatment that you never finished. Don’t demand for antibiotics for the sake of it. You know who you are…you who go to the Doctor and Doc says take a Panadol and you will be alright and you say nah Doc I think I need some antibiotics…just don’t!

Follow the instructions the health professional gives you on how to take the antibiotics—before food or after food and what times. Never ever share or use leftover antibiotics. Right now….go and throw out the antibiotics you have! Prevent infection by practising good hygiene, safer sex and preparing food hygienically—clean water, cook through etc…

Policymakers you too have a role to play. Do we have a national plan to tackle antibiotic resistance? This is a crisis! Atupele can you hear me? There needs to be improvement of surveillance of antibiotic resistant infections, better policies, programs on infection prevention and control measures. What regulations do we have in place to ensure appropriate use and disposal of medicines….if we went to Central Medical Stores Trust or pharmacies in town…are they adequately disposing expired medicines? Don’t we have a law that says antibiotics can only be bought with a prescription…what you are doing to enforce it.

Doctors, pharmacists and clinical officers you are really the main stakeholder that sets the tone! Everyone will follow your lead. I am sure you do the obvious to prevent infections by ensuring your hands and instruments are clean. Have you been over-prescribing antibiotics? Just stop…

You Doctor in Lilongwe that gave my relative in Lilongwe antibiotics when she had no signs of a viral infection…just stop. Please do talk to your patients about the correct use of antibiotics and the dangers of misuse.

We all have a part to play. Remember, each time you take an antibiotic when it is not necessary, the effectiveness of the antibiotic decreases and it might not work the next time you really need it.

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