At the time, Daley said the issue was fuelled by demand from patients, as well as “inappropriate choices from physicians.”
Six years later, and the province is still facing the same problem.
Daley says that prior to the pandemic, in the years 2018-2019, the province was prescribing 800 antibiotic prescriptions per 1000 people, per year.
He says that number dipped during the worst of the pandemic in 2020-2021, which he guesses was mostly due to a lack of access to care.
Now, he says, the numbers are back up to 600 prescriptions per 1000 people annually.
Daley says this marks a slight improvement, but the downward trend must continue or else it could cost the province’s strained health-care system.
Resistance killing thousands
The world is facing a crisis in antimicrobial resistance, which the World Health Organization has considered one of the top 10 threats to global public health.
Nov. 18-24 is considered Global Antimicrobial Awareness Week.
According to the World Health Organization, antimicrobial resistance occurs when “bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.”
When patients are prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily, Daley says, it contributes to the resistance of the drugs. When people build up resistance, typical drugs are no longer effective when they are truly needed.
“Pease do not ask for an antibiotic you don’t need,” he said. “And to physicians, please do not prescribe an antibiotic that patient does not need.”
According to Daley, some ailments that don’t require antibiotic treatment include pharyngitis, sore throat, sinusitis, a stuffy nose, acute bronchitis or wheeze, or inner ear infections in children.
Long-term effects of antimicrobial resistance include an increase in mortality when drugs don’t have the same effect that doctors are expecting.
“We are actually losing patients in this country,” said Daley. “We estimate about 14,000 per year because of antimicrobial resistance.
“We encourage patients to ask their physician, ‘is there an alternative to an antibiotic treatment for me?'” said Daley. “Stop asking for something that not only is not going to help you, but is actually harmful in contributing to this ecological problem.”
Growing antibiotic resistance has been exacerbated by a lack of development of new kinds of drugs to treat infections.
“Companies are not creating new antimicrobials to help us deal with this problem because these drugs are not profitable enough to the companies,” said Daley.
“People like me are struggling when we try to save people’s lives and we have no antibiotics left to use.”
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