Without urgent action, common infections and minor injuries could be deadly again
Why is antibiotic resistance such a problem here in Indonesia and what are we doing to change it?
Antibiotic resistance is caused by a number of factors. Although the unregulated use of over-the-counter antibiotics is one factor, there are many other factors, such as:
- Poor infection control practices;
- Poor prescribing practices;
- Supply of poor quality antibiotics;
- Lack of adequate diagnostic and monitoring tools;
- Insufficient patient education provided by physicians;
- Commercial pressure from local laboratories selling very poor quality antimicrobials;
In our secondary healthcare projects, we see many patients with multi-resistant infections. It is then useless to try to prescribe them anything and their state of health can only deteriorate further. The drugs no longer have any effect on them.
What are the consequences of antibiotic resistance on the treatment of a patient?
A patient with an antibiotic-resistant infection, especially a multidrug-resistant infection, has fewer antibiotic treatment options, and these options are usually more expensive and mostly available as intravenous medications.
Not all countries or hospitals have access to expensive “latest generation” antibiotics. The free medical care centers for example (Puskesmas), prescribe what they have, that is to say, the least expensive and therefore the least effective drugs on the local market. Difficulties in accessing these antibiotics are more common in low- and middle-income countries, which complicates their ability to treat patients who need them more than others.
In addition, patients admitted to the hospital must take certain precautions (called “contact precautions” to isolate them from others) to prevent their multidrug-resistant bacteria from spreading to other patients.
Isolation has an effect on their mental health, which is why it is extremely important that they understand what antibiotic resistance is and why they need this treatment. Our mental health and health promotion teams are doing all they can to help these patients cope.
What are the best ways to prevent antibiotic resistance?
Fair Future believes that it is possible to act to prevent or limit the appearance of resistance to antibiotics at all levels.
For example, we always advise patients to only use antibiotics when prescribed by a healthcare professional and never to share or use leftover antibiotics. But also to go to the end of the treatment prescribed by the doctor.
We also train the doctors with whom we work in the field. It is impressive to see how they prescribe antibiotics to treat a disease which they know full well that this type of medicine will have no effect.
We also stress the importance of following basic hygiene rules (washing your hands, covering your mouth when coughing, etc.) – whether you are a patient or a healthcare professional.
And medical staff must also take the time to educate patients on how to prevent infections, what antibiotic resistance is, how to take antibiotics correctly, and the dangers of misusing antibiotics.
At a more global level, it is important to set up an action plan to fight against antibiotic resistance: improve surveillance of antibiotic-resistant infections; strengthen policies and programs and implement infection prevention and control measures; regulate and promote the proper use and disposal of quality medicines; and more generally to raise public awareness of the impact of antibiotic resistance.
The health industry should also invest more in the research and development of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics, and other tools.
We must not wait until it is too late to tackle this major health challenge.