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Policy to discourage excessive intake of antibiotics on cards

Policy to discourage excessive intake of antibiotics on cards

ISLAMABAD: Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has decided to formulate a policy aimed at discouraging the excessive and unnecessary intake of antibiotics because it ultimately weakens resistance against viruses.

This information was shared by Director General, Ministry of NHS, Dr Asad Hafeez while talking to Dawn on Friday.

He said the policy would focus on major reasons which led to weakening of resistance against viruses and it will recommend devising a system to ascertain resistance level against viruses, ensure sale of antibiotics through prescriptions, discourage giving unnecessary medicines to animals and give awareness of use of antibiotics.

Dr Asad Hafeez said last year Pakistan signed an agreement at World Health Assembly, pledging to take steps to overcome the factors which contribute to lessening of antibiotics effectiveness.

“Within next few months a draft policy will be ready and will hopefully be implemented all over the country this year,” he said.

An official of the ministry, who is not authorised to speak on record, said the use of antibiotics started during First World War and a number of antibiotics have been introduced since then.

“The viruses have internal intelligence so they change itself according to the medicine and develop resistance against it (medicine). In the past, viruses could be killed with low potency medicines but now for the same virus high potency medicines are required,” he said.

“The problem has increased manifold during last two decades due to excessive use of the antibiotics in the third world countries,” he said.

Besides, he said, for the last many years, new antibiotics could not be introduced which meant that formulas to make the antibiotics had almost exhausted.

The official said because of the sensitivity of the issue a movement was started at the global level and matter was discussed in the World Health Assembly in May 2015, and now Pakistan had to devise a policy in this regard.

“Here we get antibiotics without prescriptions and if once a virus develops resistance against the antibiotics, it can be transferred to other countries as the world has become a global village. So we have promised that we will eliminate the reasons which can increase the chances of creation of resistant virus,” he said.

“There should be a proper mechanism for using antibiotic and antiviral. There is a trend that people use antibiotics for three days instead of one week due to which the virus could not be eliminated and its resistance level is increased,” he said.

Replying to a question Mr Hafeez said if once a virus got the ability to resist the antibiotic it becomes very difficult to treat a person and the cost of treatment also increased.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2016

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