In the US, doctors are extremely hesitant to prescribe antibiotics. In China, this is not the case and the overuse is starting to show. Chongqing Southwest Hospital and other health experts are discovering drug-resistant newborns, signifying that the bacteria is growing resistant to antibiotics. And abuse of antibiotics may also lead to the rise of superbugs, such as the recent NDM-1 strain China faced the previous month.
Antibiotics were only introduced in China around 60 years ago, but, according to the Chinese Summit on Antibiotics (2009), China has 180 different brands of antibiotics, making it the world’s largest producer.
When asked how this trend escalated, many doctors say that most patients want the fastest road to recovery. But as we learned from the tale of the tortoise and the hare, the quickest route is not always the best, especially in the long run. Doctors also receive pressure from drug company representatives looking to push sales.
In the China Daily article, Tang at Jinan University’s No 1 Hospital remarks, "In China, as long as you are a doctor you can prescribe antibiotics, but not many (doctors) really understand how to use antibiotics correctly and are indifferent to learn."
On the plus side, the Ministry of Health has been checking up on Chinese hospitals since 2005 and some hospitals, including the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, are doing their best to restrict doling out antibiotics. Also, the Adverse Drug Reaction Monitoring Center in Guangdong educates local doctors about keeping antibiotics use to a minimum.
Education alone is not enough though. In addition, “The government needs to draft a law on antibiotic use,”says chief physician Xiao Yonghong of the No 1 Hospital, affiliate of Zhejiang University.
Until such a law is drafted, here’s hoping that Chinese hospitals keep their doctors informed and continue restricting the use of antibiotics – for the sake of our health.