IPSF APRO Corner serves a platform to spread public-sharing knowledge to members from the IPSF APRO RWGs when they participate in any IPSF or IPSF APRO event or external meeting. In this WPRO edition, Mr. Cheng-Hsuan Tsai (IPSF APRO Chairperson) met up with Mr. Emmanuel Eraly, who is currently working at the Department of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO) to have a discussion about Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), currently a serious global health issue.
According to Mr. Emmanuel, the main challenge in tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the overuse and misuse of antimicrobial agents or antibiotics. People tend to take leftover antibiotics of a previous course without a proper prescription for just a common cold. Although some people do receive antibiotics with a prescription, they may take antibiotics without following the proper regiment, i.e. they might stop the antibiotics once they feel their symptoms are resolved. These will result in an increase in AMR since the more frequent we are exposed to antimicrobials, the greater the resistance mechanism will be developed.
AMR is an urgent issue for us to resolve since the rate of resistance is increasing rapidly in most countries. If the antimicrobial resistance rate continues to rise and we do not take any action to stop it, millions of deaths can be caused by the current diseases we have seen in most countries by 2050. Fortunately, we can still reverse the trend if we take concern now and start to take actions to resolve AMR at the current stage.
There are a few simple actions or interventions that can be carried out by each individual, including you, who are reading this article. The best way to prevent the overuse of antibiotics is definitely by lowering the risks of getting illnesses. Firstly, do make sure you get vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases. Besides that, practise good hygiene habits such as washing your hands properly and regularly. This should be introduced to children from an early age. Apart fro that, do not reserve antibiotics when you fall sick. In fact, antibiotics are not really required for many illnesses. The best approach is to see a doctor, get a proper examination, and obtain the prescription for antibiotics to be taken if necessary. Do take the right amount of antibiotics within the stated duration according to the prescription.
“I think pharmacists are key actors in fighting against AMR,” said Mr. Emmanuel. Several actions can be taken by pharmacists to resolve AMR. For example, pharmacists should only dispense antibiotics to patients upon receiving a prescription and should make sure the prescriptions are filled properly. Pharmacists should keep the prescription upon dispensing the medication so that patients cannot buy antibiotics continuously with the same prescription. Pharmacists can also provide counselling for patients on the safe and effective use of antibiotics upon dispensing the medication.
As pharmacy students, we should learn more about AMR and understand the roles of pharmacists in this area. We should learn and apply proper pharmacy practices including advising patients on the proper use of antibiotics. We can practise effectively when we go through training or attachments at hospitals or community pharmacies. We can also make use of social media to raise awareness among youngsters and engage them to be concerned about this issue from an early age.
In conclusion, there are several actions that can be taken by us as pharmacy students and we can start to play our roles in combating AMR from now. In line with this effort, you can grab the opportunity to participate in any events or campaigns held in your areas in conjunction with World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2019, from 18th to 24th November 2019.
Written by: Lim Khai Xin (MyPSA, Malaysia) RRO Subcommittee of IPSF APRO