EDITORIAL: Antibiotic misuse

It is essential to make all out efforts to use antibiotics prudently and this should be used as little as possible

The irrational use of antibiotics is posing a major health problem worldwide. This year the World Antibiotic Awareness Week was observed for a week from November 13 to 19 with an appropriate theme ‘Seek advise from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics’. To prevent the misuse of antibiotics they should only be sold with the prescriptions of doctors and other healthcare professionals. Many pharmacies are selling antibiotics without such prescriptions which is harming the health of the people.  Antibiotics work only for bacterial diseases and cannot treat viral diseases. The rampant illegal use of antibiotics increases the resistance to such drugs. The patients as a result have to be dispensed with stronger antibiotics. Many antibiotics are now found not effective in treating various illnesses caused by bacteria due to antimicrobial resistance.

The antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials therefore stop working making it difficult to treat patients with various diseases. In these cases standard treatment is not effective. The haphazard use of antibiotics should be brought under control and the concerned officials should be regularly monitoring various pharmacies so that only patients with prescriptions can buy the antibiotics. We should realize that antibiotics are sometimes prescribed even when the illness is caused by a virus and is not a bacterial infection. The effectiveness of antibiotics weakens over a period of time. This is the outcome of careless use of antibiotics. As a result the disease persists and can be spread to others if caution is not exercised. Apart from humans antibiotics are also used to treat animals, and agriculture and resistant bacteria develop in the environment and also food systems.  Studies carried out show that antibiotic resistant bacteria are found in the drinking water supply systems. This is indeed a matter of grave concern as the well-being of humans and animals also are at stake. Farm management is considered to be the best way to lessen antibiotics misuse. These health practices would assist in livestock production, farming and crop production.

Therefore, it is essential to make all out efforts to use antibiotics prudently and this should be used as little as possible. The antibiotics working now could not be working in the future due to the ever increasing resistance as a consequence of the misuse of antibiotics. It is high time awareness was raised about the serious health problems that could emerge from antibiotics misuse and to use them only when it is appropriate so that the power of antibiotics is effective. The antibiotic awareness week should be treated as a global problem. In this bid a walkathon was held recently by the School of Medical Sciences, Valley Collage of Technical Sciences and Hope International College in which about 200 participants joined the event. If proper action is not taken then by the year 2050 around five million people from all over Asia could die every year from bacterial infections because they develop resistance against some antibiotics. This figure is more than those who would die of cancer.  No doubt this is a major threat to health and every measures should be taken to avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

Rising suicide

With the increase in the number of patients with mental health the suicide rate has also gone up recently across the country. Data show that 5,124 people committed suicide in the fiscal year 2016/17. It is an alarming rate compared to the deaths caused by other illness. Doctors have said that the suicide rate has increased by 13 percent. Psychologists say depression is the leading cause of suicide. If one fails in achieving something in terms of money or professional career one develops the tendency of depression leading to committing suicide.

Proper counseling of depression is the only way to prevent someone from committing suicide. The WHO has said over 10 percent of the people who went for foreign employment committed suicide because of various hardships that they face in foreign lands. In Nepal, most of those who kill themselves are women because of family breakdown, poor economic condition and troubled marriage. These are the leading causes of suicide among women. If family members are well aware of the fact that one is passing through prolonged depression they should take the affected person to a competent psychologist who can help address his/her problem before it is too late.