‘Combat Drug Resistance through simple hygienic practices’ :Health experts

Published in Pakistan Observer (8 Apr. 2011)Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Health experts agreed with the idea that instead of giving antibiotics, people must be given full awareness to prevent and control the disease through traditional hygienic practices as simple as washing hands regularly.

Raising concerns over drug resistance, Dr. Khalid, WHO representative informed that “52 per cent Pakistanis take antibiotics with/without a doctor’s prescription.” And this is a major concern because antibiotics create “Drug Resistance (DR) – which is becoming more severe and many infections are no longer cured, leading to prolonged and expensive treatment and greater risk of death”, warned .

Pill-popping without proper medical advice has become the norm nowadays. Another serious problem is of self-medication emanating from random reading on the Internet or health magazines” Dr. Khalil Ahmad Mukaddam told Pakistan Observer.

To mark World Health Day 2011, Pakistan’s first Health and Hygiene Conference was held in Islamabad on Thursday focusing on this year’s WHO theme – “Combat Drug Resistance” through hygienic practices. The conference organized by Reckitt Benckiser (RB), was attended by leading doctors of the country and medical students. The speakers included Prof. John Oxford, Chairman Global Hygiene Council; Dr. Arshad Karim Chandio, Deputy DG Health; Dr. Samia Babar, Director, Health Awareness Society; Dr. Khalid Bukhari, WHO Country representative for essential medicine and Tahir Malik, Managing Director of RB.

Dr. Babar, while sharing the findings of a study about the level of hygiene awareness conducted in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi/Islamabad said that only “7% of Pakistanis take bath every day.” While 63% wash hands regularly while 64% wash hands after going to the toilet and 61% wash hands before and after meals. The study’s sample size of 504 an was restricted to urban areas, but still the “results are not satisfying and there is a need to raise the level of awareness regarding hygiene” she remarked.

According to Prof. Oxford, a global study show that “worst sites failing the bacterial tests were bathroom seals, fridge interior and kitchen towel” – which we generally overlook. He termed “vaccines, antibacterial products and hygiene” as most important practices to combat diseases instead of taking antibiotics. “The studies show a clear need for better hygiene in home and at hospitals” he stressed.

Dr. Bukhari suggested a six-point policy package: political commitment; surveillance; drug regulation; rational use of medicines; infection prevention and control; innovation and research, to prevent drug resistance. Regulation of medicines, accountability of pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies as well as a policy at hospitals for antibiotic consumption is mandatory for Pakistan, he stressed.

Dr. Arshad Karim Chandio, Deputy DG Health accepted the fact that health situation of Pakistan is not satisfying as “thousands of children die at an early age from preventable diseases.” Dr. Chandio mentioned the “Lady Health Worker (LHW) programme having 100,000 members. Yet despite the programme, “maternal mortality rate is 276 per 100,000, while infant mortality rate of 65.1 deaths per 1000 live births” (2009 study). He said that there is a need of “health and safety council” in Pakistan to improve the health facilities.

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