Quiet death from antibiotic misuse

Published: 11/04/2011 05:00


Most of antibiotics have become useless because bacteria have adapted to resist the drugs. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists Vietnam among the countries with the highest drug-resistance rate in the world.

Most of antibiotics have become useless because bacteria have adapted to resist the drugs. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists Vietnam among the countries with the highest drug-resistance rate in the world.

When they have flu symptoms like cough, sore throat, sneezing, or headache, many Vietnamese turn away from doctors and decide they know what drugs to take. They can easily buy all kinds of medicines, including antibiotics, without prescriptions, at any drugstore.

Many people only visit a doctor when their condition worsens or they have something they cannot diagnose themselves.

According to a recent report, Bach Mai’s clinical immunity and allergy department receives three or four patients a day with complications caused by self-prescribed drugs.

They have body redness if it is a mild case and anaphylaxis if more serious (a severe, whole-body allergic reaction to a chemical), and even die if they are not rushed to hospital in time, a doctor says.

Self-prescribed drugs to treat eye problems could also lead to grave consequences, Dr Hoang Cuong of the Central Eye Hospital warns.

Instances of patients permanently losing their sight are not rare since the use of wrong drugs can cause corneal ulcers and cataracts, he explains.

Many drugs that people use to treat glaucoma can have serious side effects like cardiac failure and increase the risk of asthma, he warned further.

Allergies to antibiotics like penicillin, ampicillin, streptomycin, tetracylin, analgin, and phenacetin can also lead to lung, liver, and kidney failure which can quickly cause death if not treated soon.

Clearly, spending a little more time and money to see a doctor can save many people from such terrible fates.

However, there are problems with doctors in writing wrong prescriptions. As any patient wishes to be well again quickly, some doctors, especially those at private clinics often prescript strong and expensive antibiotics to cure very simple diseases.

According to survey by the Health Insurance Department under the Health Ministry at a big hospital in Hanoi, the average number of medicines in a prescription is 7.06. Some prescriptions have up to 10-20 kinds of drugs. Antibiotics are very popular. For some wards, antibiotics appear in 100 percent of prescriptions.

It is also very common to combine several kinds of antibiotics in one prescription, with half of them unnecessary, according to the Health Ministry’s Medicine and Treatment Council.

Inspections at some health stations show that prescriptions are mainly written by physicians, with the formula: antibiotics-antipyretic-vitamins. The doses are often strong and used for a long time.

Another research conducted at 19 hospitals in Hanoi, HCM City and Hai Phong in 2009-2010 reveals that four popular bacteria (acinetobacter spp, pseudomonas spp, e.coli, klebsiella) resist many kinds of antibiotics.

It is not only in Vietnam but also around the world that many kinds of antibiotics have lost their effect.

Minister of Health Nguyen Quoc Trieu said considering antibiotics as the “wonderful remedy” to cure all kinds of infected diseases, antibiotics have been used in long time, overused resulted in anti-drugs of bacteria.

“Recently, many scientists in the world have warned of the appearance of anti-drug genes of bacteria against some antibiotics of carbapennem group, a new group of antibiotics. This has caused worries over the strong changes of anti-drug bacteria,” Trieu said.

In Vietnam, research works also detect some kinds of bacteria which resist many kinds of antibiotics. Popular antibiotics like penicillin, tetracycline and streptomycine are nearly harmless to many kinds of bacteria.

WHO General Director Margaret Chan has warned of the return to the period before antibiotics were discovered.

Experts said that antibiotics should be only used in serious cases and patients should not misuse them.

Source: Dan Tri/VNE

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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