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Public warned vs misuse of antimicrobial drugs

MISUSE and overuse of antimicrobial medicines could compromise their effectiveness, which means these life-saving drugs will stop working for people and animals, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday.

WHO said an estimated 5.2 million deaths will be caused by drug-resistant bacterial infection in the Western Pacific region between 2020 and 2030.

In last Saturday's media forum organized by the Philippine College of Physicians, Regina Berba, chairman of the Hospital Infection Control Unit of the Philippine General Hospital, advised the public to immediately consult a doctor if symptoms of a possible infection persists.

«It is important to note that not all infections are caused by bacteria. In fact, in Southeast Asia, most of the infections are viral such as the coronavirus that caused Covid-19, and the virus that causes dengue. So let us not self-medicate,» Berba said.

There are also different types of antimicrobial medicines — antifungal, antiparasitic and antiviral — aside from the most common types of antibiotics. These are consumed in tablet forms or syrup, or can be injected through an intravenous line.

Self-medication and misusing of these medicines can lead to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), where the bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

«So it is not a one-size-fits-all [thing] that you can consume any antimicrobial medicine. It is important to determine first what kind of infection you have [if there is], so the doctor can give you the appropriate prescription of antimicrobial drugs,» Berba added.

The Philippines is one of the most active countries in the fight against AMR.

In fact, the Department of Health, through the Food and Drug Administration Advisory 2012-017, has imposed a policy where «the selling or dispensing of antibiotics or other ethical drugs without required prescription issued by a licensed physician is strictly prohibited.»