Sunday, January 28, 2007

Here and there: antibiotics

I moved in to KL about 15 months ago. It's been exciting - new stuff, new cultures, new ways of doing things. Not all are good and at the same time not all are bad. It's clearly a trade off.

Surely there are loads of them. One that I struggle the most is probably antibiotics - the use and prescription of antibiotics.

It took me some time to adapt to the very strict prescription of antibiotics in the U.S. There, not until the symption is proven caused by bacteria, doctors won't prescribe any antibiotics. Even the patient is having high fever. Why? Antibiotics have no effect against viruses, fungal, and other nonbacterical infections (for example common cold). I guess the only positive effect would be psychological.

But here the practice is totally different - as is in Indonesia as far I can remember. Doctors are so trigger-happy when it comes to antibiotics. They even prescribe antibiotics for "just-in-case". That scares me.

And oh, the antibiotics here taste much worse, especially those for children.

Here's excerpt from wikipedia about use and misuse of antibiotics:

Use or misuse of antibiotics may result in the development of antibiotic resistance by the infecting organisms, similar to the development of pesticide resistance in insects.

Antibiotic resistance has become a serious problem in both the developed and underdeveloped nations. By 1984 half of the people with active tuberculosis in the United States had a strain that resisted at least one antibiotic. In certain settings, such as hospitals and some child-care locations, the rate of antibiotic resistance is so high that the normal, low cost antibiotics are virtually useless for treatment of frequently seen infections. This leads to more frequent use of newer and more expensive compounds, which in turn leads inexorably to the rise of resistance to those drugs, and a race to discover new and different antibiotics ensues, just to keep us from losing ground in the battle against infection. The fear is that we will eventually fail to keep up in this race, and the time when people did not fear life-threatening bacterial infections will be just a memory of a golden era.