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Viet Nam to tackle growing antibiotic overuse

Update: August, 19/2015 - 08:44
The growing abuse of antibiotics is causing a resistance to the drug. The ministry established last week a special unit to study the problem and would soon propose solutions. — Illustrative Photo alfromal.com

HA NOI (VNS) — The growing abuse of antibiotics is causing a resistance to the drug, the Ministry of Health has warned.

The ministry established last week a special unit to study the problem and would soon propose solutions, said Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the ministry's Medical Examination and Treatment Department, who leads the unit.

The widespread sale of antibiotics without a doctor's prescription was blamed for the increasing resistance to the drug in Viet Nam, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen said.

"New strains of virus have been found that resist many types of antibiotics, including new generations of antibiotics," Xuyen said.

Many Vietnamese buy antibiotics over-the-counter and overuse them for minor illnesses.

"I often go to the nearest drug store to pick up antibiotics when my children or I have a cough," said Le Thi Bien, 47, a housewife in Long Bien District in Ha Noi. "I don't think I need to visit a doctor for examination and take a prescription for treatment if it's only a cough."

A survey by the ministry conducted in 3,000 drug stores in the north region in 2010 found that 88 per cent of antibiotics were sold without prescription. The survey also said that the three best selling antibiotics were Amoxicillin, Cephalexin and Azithromycin.

The World Health Organisation said in April that antimicrobial resistance was a major problem in South East Asia and that infections were a particular concern. The WHO said the main cause of resistance appeared to be inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines, due to both their over-the-counter availability and the poor compliance of standards by health care workers.

A pharmacist in Ha Noi's Long Bien District said she usually asked customers about prescriptions before selling antibiotics to them, but most of them didn't have one.

Previously, the ministry set up a committee for drug-resistance prevention in 2013. — VNS

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