Posted on May 19, 2014

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is urging the public to take care when using antiviral and antibiotic medications in order to avoid antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which currently constitutes a major threat to public health across the globe.

A global report by the World Health Organization (WHO) - its first review of antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance - has revealed that the threat of antimicrobial resistance ‘is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country’. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change so the antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections.

Data in the report show extensive antibiotic resistance across the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region with high levels of E. coli, (a bacterium that can cause serious Infections), resistance to third generation cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones - two important and commonly used types of antibacterial medicine. Resistance to third generation cephalosporins in K. pneumoniae is also high and widespread. In some parts of the region, more than half of Staphylococcus aureus infections are reported to be methicillin-resistant (MRSA), meaning that treatment with standard antibiotics does not work. The report reveals major gaps in tracking of antibiotic resistance in the region.

“Thankfully, we are in a good situation in Qatar as far as antibiotic resistance is concerned due to the law prohibiting the use of antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription in Qatar. And the health authorities here are also  ensure that only high quality antibiotic medications are available in the country. In addition, we aim to always keep up-to-date with latest antibiotic medications and therapy,” HMC’s Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacist Dr. Eyad Tawfiq Mohamed Al Madhoun (pictured) said.

He mentioned that antibacterial resistance, occurs because bacteria have smart systems whereby they develop resistance to organisms through different kinds of mechanisms thus causing resilience to antibiotics. The dangers relating to this resistance is well recognized.Dr Madhoun explained further that when organisms are resistant to antibiotics, they become really difficult to treat. “This is why manufacturers of antibiotics have to keep updating drugs in order to combat new resilience to the infections,” he said.

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He said resistance also happens when doctors prescribe antibiotic when not needed. “Some doctors tend to prescribe antibiotics for patients when it is not necessary. Some viral  infections are self-limiting, so the infected persons only need support therapy but when antibiotics is prescribed in such situation, the bacteria is exposed to the antibiotics and it may adapt to the molecules of the drug thus causing resistance,” Al Madhoun explained.

Dr. Al Madhoun pointed out that improper use of antibiotics, self-medication, shortening the duration of antibiotic dosage, and failure to complete the course of dosage as prescribed by physicians will also lead to antibiotic resistance. “The kind of antibiotic prescribed for an infection could also lead to resistance as there are some bacterial infections that do not require strong broad spectrum antibiotics, which are usually prescribed for some serious infections,” he said.

Keeping infections at bay by observing proper personal and food hygiene will go a long way towards preventing people from falling sick and from needing antibiotics, he added. “Ensuring food is clean and hygienically processed before eating; fruits and vegetables are properly washed with fresh water; and maintaining proper hand hygiene by washing hands after using the toilet, coughing or sneezing are other ways of preventing bacterial infections,” he continued.

Other precautions against infections according to Dr. Al Madhoun include:

  • Avoiding crowded areas
  • Wearing masks if already sick to avoid spreading infection
  • Avoiding spitting
  • Covering of cough or sneeze with tissue (where there is no tissue cover with upper sleeve)
  • Washing hands regularly