Rampant abuse of antibiotics by the general public and doctors is seeing an alarming increase, and will only lead to more resistance of the drug in patients, experts have warned, as quoted by Sai Gon Giai Phong.

Medical experts say that people should use antibiotics only when they are suffering from some sort of infection. However, in Vietnam antibiotics are used for even ordinary treatments. People look upon antibiotics as miraculous healing medicines and hence self-medicate by buying the drug from nearby pharmacies even for ailments like exhaustion, cough and cold.

Dr. Tran Minh Dien, Deputy Director of the National Children Hospital in Hanoi, said that people often self-medicate their children with the drug. According to a hospital survey, up to 44 percent of parents use the drug before taking their child to a hospital.

Meanwhile, as per a Ministry of Health study, awareness of correct use of antibiotics among people and medicine retailers in rural districts in the northern provinces is still very low.

According to the Pharmacy University in Hanoi, the rate of Vietnamese people using antibiotics is five times higher than in European countries. The rate among people in urban areas is 88 percent while in rural areas it is 91 percent.

Rampant and overuse of antibiotics could harm patient’s health and even prove hazardous and fatal. Cao Hung Thai, Deputy Chief of the Medical Examination and Treatment Department under the Ministry of Health, said it is often seen that people don’t take a full course of antibiotics and hence build up resistance against the drug. Consequently, the drug fails to affect during regular treatment.

Dr. Dien noticed that parents use antibiotics for children indiscriminately, leading to complications or even deafness.

Medical experts warn that physicians should take initiative not to abuse antibiotics in prescriptions and instead study the drug history of patients. In addition, concerned agencies should strengthen awareness of antibiotics among people to prevent abuse.

Antibiotics, first used in the 1940s, are certainly one of the great advances in medicine. But overuse of antibiotics has made existing “wonder drugs that worked for decades” useless against bacteria that have mutated to resist them.

Frequent and inappropriate use of antibiotics can cause bacteria or other microbes to resist the effects of antibiotic treatment. This is called bacterial resistance or antibiotic resistance. Treating these resistant bacteria requires higher doses of medicine or stronger antibiotics. Because of antibiotic overuse, certain bacteria have become resistant to some of the most powerful antibiotics available today.

Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem, and one that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls "one of the world's most pressing public health problems". Bacteria that were once highly responsive to antibiotics have become increasingly resistant. Among those that are becoming harder to treat are pneumococcal infections (which cause pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and meningitis), skin infections, and tuberculosis.

To combat the looming antibiotic apocalypse - the day when none of the available treatments will work against certain microbes - the CDC has identified four important steps that healthcare providers, the government, industry, and patients should take: namely preventing the spread of infection, better tracking of superbugs, smarter use of antibiotics, and developing new drugs and diagnostic tests.-VNA