17/01/2002

New campaign aims to reduce misuse of antibiotics

The Department of Health has launched a major publicity campaign which aims to bring home the message that antibiotics don’t work on minor illnesses.

The campaign, which is being run for the third time by the Department, carries the key message that antibiotics do not work on colds, most coughs and sore throats.

The campaign, launched on Wednesday January 16, will include advertising in shopping centres and at bus stops and the distribution of leaflets available in GP surgeries, pharmacies and other public outlets.

Stressing the importance of the campaign, Dr. Lorraine Doherty, Senior Medical Officer at the Department said “This campaign carries a very important message. If we do not limit the prescribing of antibiotics for minor complaints, they will eventually lose their effectiveness against many illnesses.

“Bacteria are very clever and can adapt to become resistant to antibiotics. This means that antibiotics are becoming less effective at fighting many infections. This is already beginning to happen and is of concern to many health professionals.

“The objective of this campaign is to make patients aware that most coughs and colds do not need antibiotic treatment but can be managed with simple remedies. Dr Doherty added: “My message to patients is: antibiotics should not be taken for simple coughs and colds. Do not expect your doctor to prescribe antibiotics for these minor complaints or for viruses, for example.”

The campaign also encourages patients to seek advice from community pharmacists on safe and appropriate symptomatic relief. In addition the campaign explains that antibiotics will also kill the "good bacteria" that will help to keep us all healthy. (AMcE)

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