The Importance of Antibiotic Awareness

Antibiotics are one of the most important inventions of the last century in terms of protecting and improving human health. On the other hand, resistance developed as a result of inappropriate and unnecessary use of antibiotics has also shown itself as a threat to humanity. Head of AFSU Faculty of Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases, Prof. Dr. Neşe Demirtürk wrote an article on the subject due to Antibiotic Awareness Week.

The Importance of Antibiotic Awareness

Prof. Dr. Neşe Demirtürk

Antibiotics are one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century and are indispensable drugs in the treatment of bacterial infections. Although these drugs created the joy that the war against bacteria was won in favor of humanity in the first years of their discovery, this joy was short-lived, and antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which has grown exponentially with widespread use, has become one of the most important health problems of our age. When a bacterium becomes resistant to an antibiotic, it means that that antibiotic can no longer be used to treat infections caused by that bacterium.

Today, approximately 700 thousand people die annually due to resistant bacteria. Bacteria that are resistant to all existing antibiotics, especially in hospital infections, cause a major problem that threatens human health. In a report published in the UK in 2016, it is emphasized that the most common cause of death in 2050 will be resistant bacterial infections. At the same time, this problem causes serious economic losses.

The most important reason for the development of antibiotic resistance is inappropriate use.

Use of broad-spectrum antibiotics unnecessarily, in insufficient or over time, plays an important role in the induction and spread of resistance in bacteria. Inappropriate use of antibiotics is unfortunately very common in our country. It is known that antibiotics are used in at least 3 out of every 10 prescriptions in our country, and unfortunately, Turkey appears to be the country with the highest per capita consumption of antibiotics among OECD countries. As a result of this negativity, we are among the countries in the world that experience the problem of antibiotic resistance in bacteria both in hospitals and in the community. Inappropriate use of antibiotics, especially in upper respiratory tract infections, is among our most important problems. The presence of antibiotics in the veterinary medicine and food industry also contributes negatively to resistance.

In our country, as in the rest of the world, this issue has been discussed more in recent years, and many programs are organized to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use. Rational antibiotic use trainings are organized for physicians by the Ministry of Health, and this issue is frequently kept on the agenda by specialty associations, and awareness-raising activities are carried out for both healthcare professionals and public opinion.

Every year, the week of 18-24 November is known as “Antibiotic Awareness Week” all over the world and the importance of appropriate use in order to prevent antibiotic resistance is tried to be highlighted. The theme determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) this year is “raise awareness, stop resistance”. In our age where human mobility has reached its maximum with the changing and developing possibilities, it is necessary for all countries of the world to act together to prevent antibiotic resistance and to make regulations to increase compliance with the measures determined within the framework of the WHO’s global action plan to prevent antimicrobial resistance.

As physicians, we must be aware of the great responsibility we have individually in order to reduce antibiotic resistance, which is one of the most important health problems of the whole world. In all public and private health institutions providing primary, secondary and tertiary health care services, it is very important for all health personnel to be sensitive about rational and appropriate antibiotic use, and to volunteer to increase the awareness and knowledge of patients and society on this issue.

Do not forget. Developing new antibiotics is not a solution. Because survival in the universe is the biggest battle of every living thing and this fact does not change for bacteria. There will always be potential resistance to any new antibiotic. Therefore, rational and appropriate use is the only solution.

Let’s be aware! Let’s stop the resistance together!