By Benjamin Flowers
A new study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) insistshat misconceptions about antibiotics rank high in the global rise of antibiotic resistance.
According to the WHO, antibiotic resistance, which occurs when bacteria mutate, making antibiotics less effective, is quickly becoming one of the largest global health concerns.
The survey, which had some 10,000 participants from different countries, including the Caribbean, showed that while over 60 percent of the participants knew what antibiotic resistance is, most of them did not know how it affected them directly or how to take preventative measures.
Some common misconceptions included the belief held by 32 percent of participants, that they should stop taking antibiotics when they feel better, rather than complete the prescribed course of treatment.
Sixty-four percent of respondents also had the misconception that antibiotics were capable of treating viral infection such as colds and the flu.
Other survey highlights included that 76 percent of respondents thought that antibiotic resistance occurred when the body became resistant to antibiotics, when in fact, bacteria – not humans or animals – become resistant to antibiotics.
Around 66 percent of participants believe that individuals were not at risk of a drug-resistant infection if they took their antibiotics as prescribed; and 44 percent thought antibiotic resistance was only a problem for people who took antibiotics regularly.
As the global resistance problem escalates, patients who suffer from bacterial infections will be more adversely affected by illnesses, become hospitalized for longe, and require more expensive means of treatment.
“It is reaching dangerously high levels in all parts of the world”, the World Health Organizatio warned.
“Antibiotic resistance is compromising our ability to treat infectious diseases and undermining many advances in medicine.”
The WHO also stated that without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous.
To raise awareness the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) declared November 16-22, World Antibiotic Awareness Week.
President of the Pharmacy Association of Belize, Melanie Pelayo, sent out a public plea for Belizeans to consult their physicians before purchasing any medications, especially antibiotics, and also to ensure that treatments are adhered to whether or not the symptoms have gone.