People from across Norfolk and Waveney are being reminded that antibiotics are not a miracle cure for coughs and colds and they should treat their illness with over-the-counter medication instead.
The message comes from experts at Norfolk and Waveney’s five clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the run up to World Antibiotic Awareness Week, which is run by the World Health Organization and takes place between 14 and 20 November.
The annual event carries the theme ‘handle with care’, and aims to help educate patients about the correct use of antibiotics while also spreading the message that they cannot be used to cure colds or most coughs or sore throats. It will also highlight the dangers of over-using antibiotics, which can increase the resistance bacteria have to the drugs and make them less effective.
Globally, 480 000 people develop multi-drug resistant TB each year, and drug resistance is also starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria. The success of major surgery and cancer chemotherapy would also be compromised without effective antibiotics.
People can help by:
- preventing infections by regularly washing their hands, practicing good food hygiene, avoiding close contact with sick people and keeping vaccinations up to date;
- only using antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional;
- always taking the full prescription;
- never using left-over antibiotics and
- never sharing antibiotics with others.
The awareness week ties in closely with the ongoing ‘Your Medicines, Your NHS’ campaign. Organised by the five CCGs – Great Yarmouth and Waveney, North Norfolk, West Norfolk, Norwich and South Norfolk – it aims to save the NHS money by cutting back on wasted medicines by making sure patients are only prescribed the drugs they need.
Michael Dennis, a medicines expert with the CCGs, said: “Antibiotics play a crucial role in modern healthcare and are vitally important drugs. However, it is really important that they are used correctly to make sure they remain effective in the future.
“Without effective antibiotics, major surgery and treatments such as chemotherapy and diabetes management become very high risk. Antimicrobial resistance also increases the cost of healthcare and makes people more vulnerable to other illnesses in the long run, such as clostridium difficile.
“People can play their part in helping to keep these important drugs effective by practicing good hygiene around the home and only taking antibiotics if they are prescribed by a doctor. If you have a cold or cough, please ask your pharmacist for advice as antibiotics will do absolutely nothing to help with your symptoms.
“By all working together and using antibiotics appropriately, we can make sure the medication will remain effective for times when it really is needed.”
Advice on washing your hands properly and a quiz giving people the chance to test their knowledge about antibiotic use are available by visiting http://antibioticguardian.com/public/
For more information about the Your Medicines, Your NHS campaign, visit www.greatyarmouthandwaveneyccg.nhs.uk and click on the links from the homepage.