The Jakarta Post
The rampant abuse of antibiotics has resulted in a rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which jeopardizes efforts to effectively prevent and treat infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, the Health Ministry has said.
Hari Paraton, head of the Antimicrobial Resistance Control Committee (KPRA) at the Health Ministry, said that doctors now had to prescribe new types of antibiotics or higher dosages of the same antibiotics.
'Not long ago, people took penicillin to cure gonorrhea but the bacteria got stronger so that it can't be tackled by the same antibiotics anymore,' Hari said.
Hari said that the cause of such resistance was the prescription of wrong dosages or misuse of drugs.
'Besides gonorrhea, there are many diseases with bacteria that have become stronger and resistant to some antibiotics,' said Hari in a seminar held on Wednesday in Central Jakarta.
Some common diseases caused by bacteria include tuberculosis, typhus and bloody diarrhea.
He said that the problem of antimicrobial resistance could affect many people, not just those directly related to the health sector.
'Diseases with stronger bacteria need stronger antibiotics that are harder to produce and more expensive. Existing antibiotics become ineffective or even wasted so the issue is not only a problem for patients but also pharmaceutical businesses and the nation's economy,' Hari said.
The Health Ministry estimated the annual mortality rate caused by AMR to be around 130,000.
The figure is higher than that of other countries in the region like Thailand, which recorded around 38,000 deaths caused by the problem.
The WHO put Indonesia on a list of countries that are yet to come up with a plan to tackle the problem.
'The system used to diagnose patients in the country even has yet to acknowledge such resistance as a cause of illnesses or deaths, so it is a challenge to map the prevalence,' Hari remarked.
Nevertheless, the ministry's research in 2013 found indications of a severe misuse of antibiotics by patients, doctors and pharmacies.
According to the research, 10 percent of families in Indonesia had antibiotics in their homes. At least 86.1 percent of those had the drugs without a prescription.
Meanwhile, according to the research, only 27 percent of doctors in Indonesia had given the right dose of antibiotics and prescribed them for the right purpose.
'Doctors are often worried that patients have infections [caused by bacteria] and thus prescribe antibiotics. Sometimes, it's the patients who force the doctors to give them antibiotics as they think they won't recover without antibiotics,' said Purnamawati Sujud, chairman of the Indonesian Caring Parents Foundation (YOP).
She added that resistant bacteria spread mostly in the ICUs of hospitals, where patients suffering from different health problems assembled.
'Therefore, hospitals have to be really strict in how they place the patients. Health practitioners have to ensure their own sanitation,' she said.
The foundation has been giving antibiotics training to families.
Information on the campaign can also be accessed at www.bijak-antibiotik.com or via @milissehat on Twitter. (rbk)
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