A survey by the World Health Organization in 12 countries showed that antibiotic resistance due to overuse or misuse is known to almost two thirds (64%) of some 10 000 people who were surveyed across 12 countries.
About 64% of respondents believe that antibiotics can be used to treat colds and flu, which are virus-caused with no impact by using antibiotics, said the survey. Close to one third (32%) believe they should stop taking antibiotics when they feel better, little aware about the completion of the course.
The multi-country survey was limited to 2 countries per WHO Region, 12 countries in all, including India, and data collected was representative of each Region, not necessarily global, said WHO. Fieldwork was carried out by research agency 2CV between 14 September and 16 October 2015 and a total of 9,772 respondents completed the 14 question survey either online or during a face-to-face interview.
In India, the survey conducted online interviews of 1,023 people and found that more than three quarters (76%) of respondents accepting that they had taken antibiotics in the past 6 months, while 90% said they were prescribed or provided by a doctor or nurse.
Three quarters (75%) of respondents in India said that colds and flu can be treated with antibiotics, a major misnomer and only 58% know that they should stop taking antibiotics only when they finish the course as directed.
While 75% agree that antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest problems in the world, 72% of respondents in India believe that experts will somwhow solve the problem before it becomes too dangerous.
The survey was held as part of the WHO global campaign, ‘Antibiotics: Handle with care’, during the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week, 16-22 November 2015 to raise awareness and encourage best practices among the public, policymakers, health and agriculture professionals to avoid the spread of antibiotic resistance.
“The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis, and governments now recognize it as one of the greatest challenges for public health today. It is reaching dangerously high levels in all parts of the world,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.
Dr Keiji Fukuda, Special Representative of the Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance said the campaign is just one of the ways WHO is planning to work with governments, health authorities and other partners to reduce antibiotic resistance. "One of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century will require global behaviour change by individuals and societies," he noted.