A recent health survey found that 90 percent of respondents were using antibiotics properly last year following a local government education campaign to curb overuse of the drugs, the city's health promotion authority announced Monday.
The survey's results show that the local government's education efforts are paying off, said Gu Xiping, a press officer from the Shanghai Municipal Health Promotion Committee.
"Fewer residents are taking antibiotics as a panacea, or asking doctors to prescribe them when they aren't needed," Gu told the Global Times. "Doctors are reducing the amount of antibiotics they prescribe to patients due to both the campaign and a regulation issued last year that capped the amount and types of antibiotics that each doctor can prescribe."
The Shanghai Municipal Health Promotion Committee interviewed 3,375 residents this year about how they use antibiotics. About 80 percent said they understand the importance of restricting their use of antibiotics, a 28 percent increase from 2010, according to a committee press release. The proportion of respondents found to be using antibiotics properly had increased from 75 percent in 2010.
The average amount of antibiotics used for each patient in Shanghai's public hospitals fell by 20 percent from 2010 following the campaign, according to the press release.
Still, patients in Shanghai continued to receive antibiotics at a far higher rate than the world average. About 60 percent of patients treated at local hospitals, including outpatients, were given antibiotics in 2011, according to a study by local health authorities that was published on the news website Eastday.com. View attachment 30246
Only 10 percent of patients around the world are treated with antibiotics on average, Du Wenmin, vice director of the Shanghai Clinical Center for Drug Adverse Reactions, told China Radio International.
A major reason for the overuse in China comes from patients, who often insist that doctors proscribe them antibiotics regardless of whether the proscription is necessary, said Zhen Jianying, a doctor from a community health center.
The problem not only wastes medical resources but can also seriously damage a patient's health, said Xu Wensheng, director of the Infectious Disease Department from Changzheng Hospital. "Overusing antibiotics can cause patients to grow resistant to the drugs, which can become a big problem for them in the future," Xu told the Global Times. "It can lead to liver and kidney damage. It is also a waste of money for patients if they are given unnecessary and expensive antibiotics."
The committee has sent educational brochures to more than 621,000 residents detailing the problems of overusing antibiotics.
China's health authority on Tuesday announced plans to further curb the overuse of antibiotics, including setting caps for the variety and use ratio of antibiotics, and punishing doctors found to misuse antibiotics.
The Ministry of Health limited the varieties of antibiotics a hospital could have according to its grade and function. For instance, a top-level general hospital can have a maximum of 50 varieties of antibiotics; children's hospitals, 50; psychiatric hospitals, 10; and stomatology hospitals, 35.
The use ratio, the share of antibiotics among all prescription drugs, has also been capped. The cap for general hospitals is 60 percent, for example.
Moreover, if doctors are found to use antibiotics inappropriately, they will be subjected to penalties ranging from warnings, suspensions or cancellations of their prescription-writing rights, to having their licenses withdrawn.
Doctors' clinical prescription performances will be factored into their overall performance evaluations which affect their income and promotion prospects, according to plans.