Cook Islands Ministry of Health chief pharmacist, Andrew Orange. 16080910
Te Marae Ora (TMO) pharmacy staff were busy during the Cook Islands Games – not so much with playing sport, but asking people about antibiotics.
survey was conducted in October in lead up to the World Antimicrobial Awareness
Week (WAAW), which is held every year from November 18-24.
pharmacy staff surveyed 434 people at different places around Rarotonga, to find
out what people already knew about antibiotics so that key messages could be
planned for WAAW.
chief pharmacist Andrew Orange said: “Survey results suggest that people don’t fully
understand what antibiotics do and how they work.”
example, a lot of people answered that antibiotics are used to treat infections
caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. But antibiotics only treat infections
caused by bacteria, like wound infections or pneumonia.”
half the people surveyed thought antibiotics helped to treat the common cold.
explained: “Antibiotics don’t work for infections caused by viruses, like the
common cold, influenza, or Covid. They won’t make you get better any faster.”
thirds of people surveyed knew that bacteria can become resistant to
antibiotics. When that happens, antibiotics stop working and the infection
might get worse in spite of treatment. Antibiotic resistance is caused by using
the wrong antibiotic, overusing antibiotics, or not using a big enough
need to use antibiotics wisely to make sure they keep working,” Orange said. “Different antibiotics work on different
bacteria and the right antibiotic needs to be taken for the right bacterial
infection. Your doctor or nurse practitioner is the best person to decide which
antibiotic is best to treat your infection.”
also noted that any leftover antibiotics shouldn’t be kept for future use or given
to someone else to take. “Antibiotics
lose their effectiveness over time, and the next infection that needs treating might
be caused by different bacteria, so your leftover antibiotics might not work or
could cause bacteria to become resistant.”
also a danger that antibiotics prescribed for you might cause an allergic
reaction in someone else, or interact with other medicines they’re taking. So
it really is best if any leftovers are taken back to the pharmacy.”