Misuse of antibiotics must be stopped

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Not long ago, the presence of antibiotics was found to have crossed ‘safe’ levels in the waters of Bangladesh rivers.

The first ever global study on the matter by England’s University of York found that Metronidazole, an antibiotic that is mostly misused in Bangladesh, exceeded safe levels by the biggest margin, with concentrations at one site 300 times greater than the ‘safe’ level.

Ciproflaxacin, which is used to treat a number of bacterial infections, is also found crossing the ‘safe’ level by many times.

Earlier it was revealed that at the BSMMU hospital, 80 per cent deaths in the ICU were attributable to antibiotic resistance.

The information created a lot of hue and cry among the people in the country.

The matter even went to the Supreme Court that declared a ban on the sale and use of antibiotics without prescription by the registered doctors.

However, the ground reality is drug stores sell antibiotics and patients use them without any expert advice as usual.

The dangerous message that an antibiotic that is taken without its full course can no longer work for the person concerned is largely ignored.

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In fact, growing antibiotic resistance worldwide is causing an increasing number of deaths by diseases that could be effectively treated by antibiotics.

The revelation of the cause of the majority of deaths in the BSMMU reinforced this fact.

The authorities in Bangladesh, therefore, must take the matter of antibiotic misuse seriously.

Besides the government, doctors, pharmacists as well as the antibiotic manufactures must play their due role in stopping misuse of antibiotics.

But foremost is necessary the patient’s awareness about an antibiotic. But absence of this awareness is very acute in Bangladesh.

When educated people take antibiotics on their own, as they are still easily available in drug stores despite the Supreme Court ban, it would be naïve to expect right and measured use of antibiotics from the poor and the ignorant.

Therefore, an awareness campaign can play a vital role in ensuring judicious use of antibiotics. But the ban also needs to be enforced with punishment as directed.