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Healthcare Issues / 19 Nov 2017

Ministry of Health and Prevention issues warning against dispensing antibiotics without medical prescription

Ministry of Health and Prevention issues warning against dispensing antibiotics without medical prescription

H.E. Dr. Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health Policy and Licensing of the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) and Chairman of the National Pharmacovigilance Council, announced that the Ministry intends to issue new health legislations to put an end to the dangerous practice of dispensing  antibiotics without medical prescription in the context of the World Health Organization's (WHO) reports on the prevalence of the threat created by bacterial resistance to antibiotics which is caused by changes that occur in the bacteria and render antibiotics less effective, and this is a current major threat to public health. 

H.E. pointed out that global reports have shown that between 50 and 80 per cent of germs have developed strong resistance to antibiotics, which leads to the deterioration of the immune system. This, he explained, prolongs the duration of the disease and makes treatment more difficult, consequently increasing the risk for complications that can lead to death. Reports indicate the death of 700,000 people annually worldwide for this reason. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics leads to epidemics unless there are intervention and radical solutions, which has prompted the WHO to allocate the period from November 16 to 22 every year as World Awareness Week on Antibiotics.

H.E. Dr. Al Amiri said that MOHAP, as the body responsible for health legislation in the country, is currently preparing appropriate legislation to prevent misconduct related to the dispensing of antibiotics without a prescription. He pointed out that the new draft of the federal law aims to regulate the pharmaceutical profession addresses in detail the topic of drugs that strictly require prescriptions. He added that this is an important and positive aspect which helps in the prevention of practices that aggravate the phenomenon of drug resistance.

The Assistant Undersecretary further emphasized that all pharmacies must abide by the rules and local regulations governing their operations in the UAE. The Ministry and the local health authorities will intensify the supervision and inspection of pharmacies in the country, covering around 2,400 private pharmacies, in particular, those who violate rules and regulations pertaining to the dispensing of medicines. MOHAP will also raise awareness among doctors on the rationalization of prescriptions, particularly the need to be strict in the prescription of antibiotics so that such medicines are dispensed only when medically required and used at an accurate dose, with emphasis on the importance of the prescription of the appropriate antibiotic for the specific infection.

H.E. also noted that the importance of health education for the public to raise awareness on the importance of adherence to the prescription and continued use of the antibiotic for the prescribed duration even in the case of earlier improvement. He also called for individuals to avoid self-medication with leftover antibiotics from previous medical treatments, without an understanding of the risk associated with self-medication and overuse of antibiotics.

H.E. Dr. Al Amiri further emphasized the keenness of the Ministry to raise awareness on the importance of rationalizing the use of antibiotics and avoiding risks from misuse, especially the increasing ability of bacteria to resist them and render them ineffective. He strongly warned against taking antibiotics without consulting a doctor and purchasing them from pharmacies without prescriptions, and called for adherence to therapeutic protocols when prescribing antibiotics to patients. He also explained the need to strictly adhere to the doses and their prescribed timings and the health risks associated with discontinuing the medication abruptly which he explained can lead to the re-emergence of bacteria and the development of resistance to the antibiotic. Children, he warned, should not be given antibiotics unless absolutely necessary and should be done under medical supervision.

According to scientists, antibiotics will be the biggest health challenge of the 21st century, requiring a change in global behavior by individuals and communities. The increasing resistance to antibiotics is a global health crisis. In the near future, these medications are capable of causing a malfunction in the current drug system. Doctors warn that neglecting rules may lead to serious health complications.

WHO noted that an increase in antibiotic-resistant organisms threatens our return to the pre-penicillin era in the 1920s when the mildest infection could be fatal. International medical sources confirmed that many of the characteristics of modern medicine – from bowel surgery to cancer treatment and organ transplants – depend on our ability to treat infections. If this ability is lost, then the foundations of entire modern medicine would collapse. It is very important to understand that combating the emergence of antibiotic resistance means combating supporting the whole modern medicine systems.

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