1 March 2017, Petaling Jaya – The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) has started a pledge encouraging all pharmacists to become Antibiotic Guardians in response to the antimicrobial resistance crisis.
“MPS takes antimicrobial resistance (AMR) very seriously. We initiated this pledge as a follow up to our commitment towards addressing and fighting AMR,” MPS President, Amrahi Buang said.
He said the pledge is complimentary to the society’s initial campaign ‘Antibiotics, with prescription only’ that was rolled out in November 2016 to pharmacists nationwide”
“The pledge encourages pharmacist to become Antibiotic Guardians by being the champion of appropriate use of antibiotics and dispensing based on prescription only, advocates of patient safety by advising patients on proper understanding and usage of antibiotics and committing to creating a culture through education, celebrating improvements and promoting antimicrobial stewardship” he explained.
When asked how serious the AMR threat is, Amrahi said that the latest report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) found that bacteria found in humans, animals and food continues to show resistance to widely used antimicrobials.
He said that the public lack awareness of the dangers of AMR as they still insist on being provided with antibiotics when they visit their medical practitioners.
Further, many do not comply to the counselling given to them by their pharmacist on the correct use of antibiotics.
He said patients are also not aware that the resistance towards antibiotics does not form in them but in the microbe (bacteria) itself, therefore, even if they don’t use antibiotics often, they may still get super-infections that are resistant to all antibiotics.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “There are close to 15 thousand pharmacists in Malaysia and pharmacists are universally known as the experts of medication. Therefore, it is their duty to ensure they promote the responsible use of antibiotics.”
“WHO has recently released the first ever list of drug resistant bacteria. The public should be aware that we are no longer moving towards an antibiotic crisis, we already are smack in the middle of this crisis,” he added.
Amrahi urged pharmacists to sign the pledge and educate their patients on the proper use of antibiotics by not requesting for antimicrobials when they are not indicated, completing their antimicrobial course when they are required, not sharing their antimicrobials, not keeping their antimicrobials for use on another occasion and not suggesting to others to use antimicrobials for themselves or their family.
When asked how this could be done, he explained that pharmacists need to comply to the best practice in providing counselling for each antibiotic prescription they dispense.
Pharmacists, especially those in premises that have a high patient load may not be providing all the relevant information that a patient requires with regards to their antimicrobial treatment due to time constraints.
“AMR could kill 10 million people annually by 2050. Something as simple as a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) could become life threatening,” he said.
“The superbug that carries the gene mcr-1 has already been detected in Malaysia. These statements make it clear that we need to be proactive in our fight against AMR,” he added.