European Antibiotic Awareness Day

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Antibiotic resistance is a major public health issue and considered to be a significant threat to the future of healthcare.

As such, NHS Western Isles are supporting European Antibiotic Awareness Day next Wednesday (November 18) and hoping to educate people on the issues surrounding antibiotics.

Antibiotics treat infections by killing bacteria but now these bacteria are fighting back, meaning that the antibiotics themselves are becoming less effective.

It has been 30 years since a new class of antibiotics was last introduced, despite the fact that growing numbers of infections are resistant to antibiotics.

There are a number of reasons why antibiotics lose effectiveness but two of the key ones are that we take medicines we don’t need – antibiotics don’t help most colds or coughs but we still ask for antibiotics for them – and that we don’t take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, for instance by missing doses or not completing the course. Antibiotics should never be given to another person and should only be taken as prescribed.

Some of the statistics are stark. Across Europe, 25,000 people die each year from infections resistant to antibiotics.

Also, the annual EU-wide cost of healthcare expenses and lost productivity due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria is estimated at 1.5billion euros.

In Scotland, 30% of the population had at least one antibiotic prescription in 2014.

However, research has shown that only 10% of the patients with sore throats and 20% of those with acute sinusitis actually benefit from antibiotic treatment.

Before the introduction of antibiotics, as recently as the 1930s, people often died from infections such as pneumonia and meningitis, while many routine treatments were much more risky due to the risk of infection.

Setting broken bones, basic operations, and even chemotherapy all rely on access to antibiotics that work.