Overuse of antibiotics

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, January 4, 2011
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Antibiotic-resistant super bacteria are a reminder of how consequential the overuse of antibiotics can be. For China, a country that used a total of 10.4 billion bottles of medicines in intravenous infusions - eight bottles per person - in 2009, overmedication and the overuse of antibiotics has become a problem that we cannot afford to ignore.

Worldwide the bottles of medicine used in such a manner are between 2.5 and 3.3 per person a year. Intravenous infusions should be the last resort of doctors after other ways of administering medicines, such as orally or by injection, have proved ineffective.

It can be 10 times more costly to use intravenous infusions rather than administering by mouth or injection. Also, when hospitals rely on the sale of medicines for their revenue, intravenous infusions are more frequently used for patients whose conditions are not serious enough to justify their use. It is quite common for Chinese patients to have antibiotics intravenously administered for a bad cold or fever.

The current healthcare reform has established a mechanism, which requires hospitals to hand in their income from medicine sales to the healthcare administration, which will then allocate the money that the hospital needs for the salaries and benefits of the doctors. With this separate account mechanism, a hospital does not have to rely on medicine sales for income, and thus doctors do not need to over-prescribe medicines.

The frequent use of intravenous infusions means that many patients get the impression that intravenous infusions are more advanced and more effective. It is high time that both doctors and patients became aware that intravenous infusions should never be used if there are other ways to administer medicines, and that antibiotics are not always necessary for minor ailments.

With further reform of the healthcare system, we have enough confidence that the overuse of antibiotics will be checked.

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