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| 18 November, 2017

UAE Ministry plans new law to curb misuse of antibiotics

UAE Ministry plans new law to curb misuse of antibiotics
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New health legislation aimes to end 'dangerous practice' of dispensing antibiotics without medical prescription

The Health Ministry is working on new health legislations to put an end to “dangerous practice” of dispensing antibiotics without medical prescription, a top official said on Saturday.

Dr. Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health Policy and Licensing of the ministry said the legislations are being considered in context of 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.

He said global reports have shown that between 50 and 80 per cent of germs have developed strong resistance to antibiotics, which can compromise 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.

Death from complications

Reports indicate the death of 700,000 people annually worldwide for this reason.

The indiscriminate use of antibiotics leads to epidemics unless there is 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.

Health authorities in the UAE are currently preparing new legislation to prevent misconduct related to the dispensing of antibiotics without a prescription. Picture for illustrative purposes only. — Ahmed Kutty / Gulf News.

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Dr. Al Amiri said the ministry is currently preparing new legislation to prevent misconduct related to the dispensing of antibiotics without a prescription. The new draft federal law aims to regulate the pharmaceutical profession, will address in detail prescription drugs.

He said all pharmacies must abide by the rules and local regulations governing their operations in the country.

The Ministry and the local health authorities will intensify supervision and inspection of pharmacies, covering around 2,400 private pharmacies that violate rules pertaining to the dispensing of medicines.

The ministry will also raise awareness among doctors on rationalisation 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 accurate dose, with emphasis on the importance of the prescription of the appropriate antibiotic for the specific infection.

He said people also need to be aware of adherence to prescription and continued use of the antibiotic for the prescribed duration even in the case of earlier improvement. He urged them 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.

Avoiding risk from misuse

Dr. Al Amiri further emphasized the ministry's keenness to raise awareness on the importance of rationalizing the use of antibiotics and avoiding risks from misuse, in order to stem the 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.

He also called for adherence to therapeutic protocols when prescribing antibiotics to patients.

He 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.

Antibiotics resistance

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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