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18 November is Antibiotic Awareness Day

User AvatarPosted by Hayley Smith at 18/11/2016 13:35:55

Sensible use of antibiotics is being encouraged by the NHS in east Kent as part of a public health drive across Europe to raise awareness of the impacts of using antibiotics unnecessarily.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November is being held to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals and community healthcare settings, as this is a major issue for patient safety.

Antibiotics are important medicines for treating bacterial infections in both humans and animals. However, bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic.

This means antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate. The more we use antibiotics, the greater the chance bacteria will become resistant to them and they can no longer be used to treat infections.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patients' safety in Europe. It is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing or using them inappropriately.

To slow down the development of antibiotic resistance, it is important to use antibiotics in the right way – to use the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time, for the right duration. Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed, and never saved for later or shared with others.

Dr Navin Kumta, chair of NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group, explained: “This is a very real problem. If we don’t attempt to stop unnecessary antibiotic use now it will become more difficult to treat infection. Infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria increase levels of disease and death, as well as the length of time people stay in hospitals.

“GPs are already only prescribing antibiotics when we are absolutely sure that they are necessary. Everybody needs to do their bit though. If you are prescribed antibiotics you should follow the instructions on the packet, take them at the intervals directed and ensure that any course is completed. Antibiotics should never be shared or saved for later.”

Used properly, antibiotics are very effective in fighting infection, and increasing awareness of proper use will help to save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete. Antibiotics will have no effect on viruses such as colds and flu, most sore throats, and may do more harm than good. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed increases the risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.