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LONDON, UK: International organisations have recently declared the overuse of antibiotics one of the greatest threats to public health in the years to come. On the occasion of European Antibiotic Awareness Day last week, the British Dental Association (BDA) joined other medical bodies in the UK in a new initiative that aims to promote responsible use of antibiotics in all fields of medicine, among other measures.
Known as the “One Health” approach, the strategy, which has the support of the British Medical Association, British Veterinary Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society, aims to expand interdisciplinary collaboration and communication in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment. It was also identified as a core part of a five-year plan launched by the government in 2013 that calls for better understanding of antimicrobial resistance and the development of alternative therapies.
While only one in ten prescriptions of antibiotics in the country are given by dentists, BDA President Prof. Nairn Wilson said that the profession is determined to do their bit.
“We are facing a clear and present danger to public health, and it will only be overcome if we act together,” he commented.
Dr Graham Stokes, chair of the BDA Health and Science Committee, told Dental Tribune: “Evidence suggests that of all antibiotics prescribed through dentistry, some are indeed inappropriately given. In many of these cases, patients could be treated in alternative ways that may be better suited to their pain. What we need to do is to determine how we can improve that situation by looking at the factors that influence the reason that antibiotics are given in dentistry, both in primary and secondary care.”
“It is also important to work together to ensure that the appropriate treatment is given at the appropriate time to patients,” he added.
According to 2011 figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Sweden, the prescription of antibiotics in the UK was slightly lower than the European average. While the overall burden of antibacterial resistance remains unknown, only one subset of resistant bacteria is estimated to be responsible for 25,000 human deaths annually, as well as additional health care costs of at least £1 billion on the continent, according to the European Commission.