Swansea Bay staff add voices to antibiotic awareness call

GP Rebecca Jones sits at her desk in her consulting room. Behind her is a computer which displays the e-Bug wesbite, a resource for children and young people to learn more about antibiotic resistance.

Caption: Dr Rebecca Jones, GP at Dulais Valley Primary Care Centre

Health board staff have added their voices to a global campaign to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance.

Every November, World Antibiotic Awareness Week (November 18–24, 2019) aims to increase public knowledge of the problem of antibiotic resistance, and encourage people to only take antibiotics when they need them.

Not everyone is aware that taking antibiotics when you don’t need them encourages the harmful bacteria that live inside our bodies to become resistant.

This means that if antibiotics are needed to treat an infection later on, they will not work.

Julie Harris, consultant antimicrobial pharmacist, explained: “People tend to think the problem is that bugs are becoming resistant, not people.

“But taking antibiotics when you don’t need them makes you, your family and your friends more likely to get an infection.

“Antibiotics don’t work for all illnesses and infections – and they can actually make you feel worse through side effects.”

Debra Woolley, specialist antimicrobial prescribing advisor, added: “A lot of the information out there until now has been about antibiotic resistance being a huge future problem but it is happening now – today – and could affect you even if you’re well now.”

Dr Rebecca Jones is a GP at Dulais Valley Primary Care Centre. For 15 years she has been helping patients understand when and why you should take antibiotics.

She said: “I describe it like a battlefield. These bugs are trying to win their place in the world and our immune system is there to protect us from them.

“Sometimes our immune system needs help from antibiotics to fight the bacteria but if the bacteria are already resistant then we won’t be able to fight them.

“Only using antibiotics when needed today means those medications will be available for our grandchildren when they need them in the future.”

On different days throughout the week, there will be stands in each of the health board’s hospitals, where staff will be handing out leaflets and giving more information on antibiotic awareness.

Public Health Wales will also be promoting seven key messages to the public during World Antibiotic Awareness Week, to highlight best practice of antibiotic use.

These are:

  1. Never save antibiotics for later use.
  2. Never share leftover antibiotics with other people.
  3. Never use leftover antibiotics from previous treatments.
  4. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections and do not work for infections caused by viruses such as the common cold or the flu.
  5. Up to 80% of winter illnesses affecting your nose, ears, throat and lungs are viral, so taking antibiotics will not make you feel better.
  6. Antibiotics are ONLY effective against bacterial infections.
  7. Misuse of antibiotics only causes bacteria to become resistant to antibiotic treatments.
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