Antibiotics are used liberally during this season of coughs, colds and sore throats, even though most sinus, ear infections and sore throats are mostly viral infections. Antibiotics, as the name suggests, should only be used to treat bacterial diseases, and using it for anything else can lead to antibiotic resistance, which means the medicines won’t work when you actually have a bacterial disease.
This in turn can have serious consequences with mankind returning to a pre-antibiotic era where bacterial infections were untreatable. Simple bacterial diseases would turn fatal, and epidemics of diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis could become a reality.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most critical public health threats, according to the US’ Centers for Disease Control And Prevention and the World Health Organization. It has emerged as a very serious health issue in India, according to the Chennai Declaration, an association of medical societies across India specially created in 2012 to formulate a road map to tackle the menace of antibiotic resistance. One of the reasons antibiotics are overused in India is easy accessibility—you don’t need always need a prescription to purchase them. The efforts of the Chennai Declaration has led to recent regulation that says that from 1 March, antibiotics can no longer be sold over the counter. This is a step forward in the right direction.Read More
Sujata Kelkar Shetty, PhD, writes on public health issues and is a research scientist trained at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, US