Overview

HEALTHCARE

ANTIBIOTICS: DIRECTIONS FOR USE

18 November was European Antibiotic Awareness Day, a public healthcare initiative first held in 2008, aimed at raising the awareness of individuals and healthcare professionals about the prudent use of antibiotics and the threat posed by antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics: directions for use

18 November was European Antibiotic Awareness Day, a public healthcare initiative first held in 2008, aimed at raising the awareness of individuals and healthcare professionals about the prudent use of antibiotics and the threat posed by antibiotic resistance. Moreover, this year, for the first time, the day also forms part of the First World Antibiotic Awareness Week launched by the World Health Organization as part of a campaign that has “Antibiotics: handle with care” as its slogan [source: www.salute.gov.it]

Resistance to antibiotics is the capacity of microorganisms to resist treatments: the transformation of bacteria into a resistant organism is a natural evolutionary mechanism caused by mutations of the genetic makeup that is capable of protecting the bacteria from the action of the drug. The causes include the abuse of antibiotics, poor health and hygiene conditions and the widespread use of antibiotics in animal breeding and agriculture.  The importance of tackling this phenomenon derives from the consequences it produces. These translate into a failure of the pharmacological treatment’s effectiveness – with the consequential rise in mortality rates, increased spending on healthcare and longer hospital stays.

Some 25,000 patients die every year, within EU countries, because of infections from antibiotic-resistant germs, resulting in increases in additional healthcare costs and losses in productivity of at least 1.5 billion euros.

The results of the monitoring of Ar-ISS26-31 antibiotic resistance have shown that resistance to antibiotics in Italy remains one of the highest in Europe, almost always above the average. The use of antibiotic drugs for human consumption is also well above the European average.

The inappropriate use of antibiotics originates from a series of causes that manifest themselves both from a patient as well as a medical perspective.

  • In terms of the patient, the phenomenon can be explained by misinformation and the spread of false myths such as, for example, a belief that antibiotics can be used to treat the common cold and influenza symptoms, without taking into consideration that these drugs are incapable of combating viruses, but only bacteria.
  • From a medical perspective, however, the phenomenon is prompted by a number of different factors such as the custom of prescribing these drugs, underestimating the long-term effects associated with antibiotic resistance or a weakness in the face of pressure from patients.
But the country is changing.

The control and prevention of antibiotic resistance have been acknowledged as public healthcare priorities and have been included in the macro objective of the National Prevention Plan, which is aimed at reducing the frequency of priority infectious illnesses/infections. More specifically, the Plan identifies information and training campaigns as being effective strategies for preventing the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.




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