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Resistance to medicines increasing

Update: September, 11/2015 - 09:31
A lack of oversight in the antibiotics market has led to a rapid rise in drug resistance, according to the Ministry of Health. — Illustrative Photo petrotimes.vn

HA NOI (VNS) — A lack of oversight in the antibiotics market has led to a rapid rise in drug resistance, according to the Ministry of Health.

"Drug resistance is now a global problem, especially in the developing countries," said Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen during a workshop on Wednesday called Sharing Experiences on Coordination, Implementation and Collaboration in Combating Antimicrobial Resistance.

The Ministry of Health, which released a report in June showing that 90 per cent of antibiotics had been sold to people without a prescription, established a National Surveillance of Drug-Resistance unit last month.

In addition, the study revealed that 88 per cent of drug stores in urban areas and 91 per cent of stores in rural areas had sold antibiotics to people without a prescription. The three most popular types of antibiotics are ampicillin, cephalexin and azithromycin.

Faced with the problem of drug resistance, Viet Nam is cooperating with the United Kingdom to compile evidence that would support the implementation of a national action plan to prevent drug resistance in Viet Nam.

According to the ministry, the action plan requires a joint effort of all ministries and sectors from central to local levels in order to curb drug resistance.

Xuyen said the financial burden caused by drug resistance has also worsened due to increasing treatment costs. She said some people using antibiotics without a doctor's prescription may not even suffer from a bacterial infection.

Without a professional supervision, they may use the wrong drug or take an incorrect amount of antibiotics. The overuse of drugs in livestock has also become an issue.

"I have undergone a total of nearly 30 days of antibiotic treatment because of the antimicrobial resistance," said a 44-year-old patient.

The patient, who refused to give her full name, said she was sick and was given a 10-day prescription for antibiotics, but her condition did not improve. She went to another hospital, and the doctor there said she needed antibiotic injections for 10 more days.

She was worried, so she decided to take a blood test to find out why her condition was not improving. The test revealed she was suffering from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

After that, she took medicine for seven additional days, and she was completely cured.

Despite the fact that many suffer from drug-resistant infections, there has not yet been a specific research project to prevent drug resistance in Viet Nam. This makes it difficult to provide exact figures on drug resistance nationwide, according to Cao Minh Thai, deputy director of the ministry's Medical Examination and Treatment Management Department.

"The hospitals and local health facilities throughout the country have yet to synthesise the results of the implementation of the fight against drug-resistance due to lack of funding, so it is difficult to provide adequate evidence in implementation of quantifying the seriousness of drug-resistance," Thai said.

The Ministry of Health also set up a National Steering Committee on Surveillance last year to monitor drug-resistance. Along with the surveillance unit, the agencies will submit reports periodically and implement activities to prevent drug resistance.

Coordination and mutual learning are needed to tackle the problem of drug resistance, said Heiman Wertheim, director of OUCRU Hanoi at Oxford University Clinical Research Unit.

He said there are opportunities for international organisations to cooperate with medical facilities to provide information on the extent of the problem in Viet Nam.

"Knowing is not enough, we must apply," he said. "Willing is not enough, we must do."— VNS

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