Antibiotics spark alarm in Bahrain
Manama , May 17, 2008
An over-reliance on treating patients with antibiotics is severely endangering the health of children and adults in Bahrain, it has emerged.
A study has revealed that almost 25 per cent of the medications prescribed at the country's health centres are antibiotics, according to health ministry continuous medical education co-ordinator Dr Bahiya Al Asomi.
"A one-week random study was conducted earlier this month and the findings have alarmed us," she said.
"We are now studying several options to get the doctors to prescribe fewer antibiotics since they severely affect the consumer's health."
Dr Al Asomi said it had also come to light that often patients pressurise doctors to prescribe antibiotics as a "quick fix" solution.
"The findings have prompted us to launch an awareness campaign about the side-effects of antibiotics," she said.
"We also called upon physicians to prescribe (the antibiotics) only when absolutely necessary."
In many cases, such as a cold or flu, symptomatic treatment could suffice but patients feel they have been neglected by a doctor if they are not prescribed antibiotics, said Dr Al Asomi.
"They should realise some antibiotics affect the immune system and could turn some microbes resistant to drugs," she said.
Ministry training and planning assistant under-secretary Dr Fawzi Amin said international statistics show that a third of the children given antibiotics do not need them.
"While this is the international average, the same stands for Bahrain," he said.
"We are severely hampering a healthy future for our younger generation by hooking them on to such drugs," he said.
"It is important to understand that while an antibiotic treatment could get rid of some symptoms of an illness in three or four days as compared with symptomatic treatment which could take up to a week, the long term effects could be disastrous."
Dr Amin said bacteria are capable of developing resistance to a previously effective antibiotic drug.
"This means that the specific antibiotic will no longer be of use in treating that infection," he said.
"While resistance may develop in any case, a number of factors may speed up the development of resistance.
"These include widespread use of antibiotics to treat relatively minor infections."
Dr Amin said in the long run, the danger is that bacterial infections will become untreatable and resistant strains of bacteria will develop, which will not respond to antibiotic treatment or so-called "super bugs".
"This will have serious consequences, initially for people with underlying medical conditions such as chronic lung disease or those that suppress the immune system, such as HIV," he said.
"There is also concern that eventually these 'super bugs' could cause untreatable infections in an otherwise healthy population."-TradeArabia News Service