Pharmacists at theforefront of fighting antimicrobial resistance in South Africa

Netcare and Medicross committed to safeguarding antibiotics for the future

Monday, September 1 2014

The 87 Netcare retail pharmacies located in the group’s hospitals and Medicross family medical and dental centres across the country have come out in full support of this year’s South African Pharmacy Week, which aims to raise national awareness and educate the public on various aspects regarding medicines. Pharmacy Week runs from 1 to 8 September and the theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Use antibiotics wisely.’

Vishala Gokool, general manager of pharmacy at Netcare says, “As a private healthcare group, we are committed to, and actively involved in, raising awareness about the growing issue of antibiotic resistance and helping people understand how they can help to ensure that antibiotics remain a valuable resource in
the future to fight disease.”

“Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria, however bacteria can adapt and develop defence mechanisms against the antibiotic and therefore become antibiotic resistant. Inappropriate use and overuse of antibiotics has led to an increase in multi-drug resistant infections worldwide. This means that the treatment options for these infections are diminishing at a rapid rate and the consequences for patients with bacterial infections could be devastating,” explains Gokool.

“Because Netcare is mindful of the fact that the world is at great risk of returning to the pre-antibiotic era due to the excessive and inappropriate prescription and use of antibiotics, a comprehensive and extensive pharmacist-driven antibiotic stewardship programme has been implemented across its hospitals to ensure all patients receive appropriate antibiotic therapy that is optimally prescribed,” she indicates.

This stewardship programme involves antibiotic prescriptions for every patient’s specific diagnosis being reviewed by a pharmacist either at the patient’s bedside or within the dispensary for accuracy and suitability. “Through this monitoring system, pharmacists at Netcare hospitals, working closely with treating doctors, infection prevention practitioners and nursing staff, have taken the lead in ensuring judicious use of antibiotics, thus contributing to patient safety. We always encourage patients to engage with our pharmacists who can answer their antibiotic and other medicine-related questions. The programme has achieved great success in decreasing inappropriate antibiotic utilisation within Netcare hospitals,” explains Gokool.

As part of this year’s Pharmacy Week activities, staff at Netcare pharmacies will continue spearheading educational campaigns about the correct use of antibiotics with both internal and public initiatives.

“These activities are aimed at educating people about antibiotics. It is imperative to get the message across that antibiotics are ineffective against common colds and flu as these are caused by viruses. We want people to understand that taking antibiotics unnecessarily or incorrectly can contribute to the development of certain multi-drug resistant infections. We have to do all we can to ensure that antibiotics will remain an effective tool in fighting bacterial conditions in the future. This is particularly important due to the lack of new, novel antibiotics currently being developed,” says Zahida Khan, general manager of pharmacy: primary care division.


Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare and Medicross
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Beswick and Jillian Penaluna
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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