Health officials are urging the public from doctors and nurses on the use of antibiotics before consumption.
The warning refers to all antibiotics and includes common prescribed drugs such as Penicillin, Amoxillin and Doxycycline.
Agnes Mathias, the Principal Pharmacist Health Officer says “We are aware that some people are going to pharmacies and government hospitals to buy antibiotics over the counter,”
Ms Matthias says, “We have received reports that patients and members of the public sometimes go into a pharmacy and ask for antibiotics in a way that doesn’t follow the proper channels or procedures.”
Ms Mathias says patients should consult a doctor and get a prescription before buying antibiotics.
“We encourage the public to always seek proper advice before taking antibiotics,” Ms Mathias says.
“The antibiotics that are in the National Esential Drug list of the Ministry of Health is Penicillin, Amoxicillin and Ampicillin.
“In Vanuatu, we have a drug law for people to get advice always from doctors and nurses in order to get an antiobiotic.”
Drug Store, a popular pharmacy in Port Vila, says there are many customers coming in and asking for antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription.
A Drug Store spokesperson told VBTC, “People come into our shop believing antibiotics are a cure for every illness or sickness.”
She says,“We usually ask customers to provide a doctor’s prescription which authorises them to get the right antibiotic [for their particular illness].”
She says, a good example of a drug people often request without proper medical advice is Amoxicillin, which she notices people wrongly think is a cure for every “flu, headache or backache” .
The Principal Pharmacist Health Officer warns that if people continue to take antibiotics without medical advice, they risk developing what is known as antibiotic resistance.
She says, antibiotic resistance happens when a drug is overused or wrongly used, and can cause the bacteria in the body to change or get stronger, so that the even the right antibiotics will no longer work.
“The overuse [or wrong use] of antibiotics, can make the bacterial disease [impossible or] more difficult to treat, even using the right drugs,” she says.
“When the antibiotics no longer work due to resistance, it makes it more expensive for the Health Ministry to buy different antibiotics to see if they can fight the illness,” she says.
According to the World Health Organisation, antibiotic resistance is now one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, development and the health of peoples of all ages.