In the Philippines, another problem is self-medication. A mere prescription advice from a friend is taken as gospel-truth as the sick person heads to a drugstore to buy the "advised antibiotic," which is usually taken in less than 7 days, and further adds to the growing problem of bacterial resistance.
Most antibiotics here are supposed to be acquired by prescription only, but no regulating agency is seriously enforcing it. Hah! I often overhear sick people doing "quick-consults" with drug employees: "Ano ba ang magaling sa ubo at sipon?" [What's good for cough and colds?] Said drug-employees suddenly become "doctor-experts", and prescribe a medicine, usually an antibiotic, which more often than not, is incorrect medicine.
A recent study published in the October 2005 issue of Pediatrics, explored the hypothesis of whether children of medical professionals were getting less antibiotic prescriptions than that of the general population:
Comparison of children of physicians, pharmacists, nurses and non-health personnel showed that those of physicians were 50 percent less likely than others to receive an antibiotic prescription. Children of pharmacists were 69 percent less likely to be prescribed these drugs. However, for nurses, the likelihood was similar to that of the general population.
Children of parents in low-income groups were also significantly more likely to receive antibiotics than those with higher incomes.
The findings, say the researchers, "support our hypothesis that better parental education does help to reduce the frequency of injudicious antibiotic prescribing." [Reuters Health, Oct 18 2005]
I agree with the researchers. It is the parents who need to be informed and educated about the proper use of antibiotics.
I was particularly concerned with a line in the news item that said that much of the erroneous antibiotic prescription can be attributed as a "response to parental demands."
Are you a parent? Do you usually demand your doctor to prescribe some heavyweight antibiotic for your sick kid? Do you think your doctor is not good enough when he says that all your sick kid needs is plenty of water and bed rest?
Are you a medical professional? Do you let yourself be intimidated by a parent who wants an antibiotic prescription (even when its not necessary) for his/her sick child?
Use of strong antibiotics spawn more bacterial mutations that lead to resistance later on. The infection problem becomes worse when your antibiotics no longer work. We can only curb this growing bacterial resistance to antibiotics by learning to use antibiotics judiciously.