One of the greatest threats to global public health today is the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medicine used to treat it. AMR is caused by the improper use of antibiotics and is a rising concern in Southeast Asia because many patients are able to buy antibiotics without a prescription.
Last month we polled over 400 pharmacy professionals in Vietnam to uncover pharmacists’ current practices in dispensing antibacterial drugs. What we found was consistent with our findings from other Southeast Asian countries, like the Philippines and Indonesia, and highlights the seriousness of the AMR crisis.
1 out of 4 pharmacy professionals in Vietnam improperly dispense antibiotics
According to our poll, over 1 in 4 pharmacy professionals in Vietnam dispense antibiotics even in cases of non-bacterial infection.
The top reasons for dispensing antibiotic for non-bacterial infections were:
- Faster patient recovery (12%)
- “It is still an infection.” (11%)
- To prevent future infection (6%)
- Pharmacist’s own recommendation (5%)
- Other reasons included: customer choice, fungal infection, and directives from management.
Sadly, our poll findings also show that patients already struggle with AMR: about 66% of pharmacy professionals reported that their customers are complaining that the antibiotics do not work as well as they did before.
Pharmacists should lead the fight against antimicrobial resistance
Pharmacists play an important role in this crisis as they are the first point of access to treatment for many people in emerging markets. Accordingly, they must be responsible for correctly dispensing antibiotics and preventing incorrect use.
Indeed, more than 40% of pharmacy professionals in our survey said that they receive about 1–7 requests for antibiotics per week, suggesting that antibacterial drugs are over-prescribed. Pharmacists need to be trained and empowered to comply with guidelines on antibiotic use – even if that means challenging doctors who write inappropriate prescriptions.