China to crack down on antibiotics abuse

08:18, February 16, 2011      

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China's Ministry of Health will launch a nationwide campaign this year to regulate the use of antibiotics in the latest effort to ensure the safety of medical treatment.

"There are many problems in the clinical use of antibiotics in our hospitals. The high frequency of using antibiotics and the large doses prescribed will likely cause bacteria to develop resistance," Vice Minister Ma Xiaowei said Tuesday at a meeting.

China, with a population of over 1.3 billion, is among those countries with reported antibiotics abuse. Only around 20 percent of Chinese patients are in need of antibiotic drugs. However, figures show that 70 out of 100 Chinese inpatients were using antibiotics, while the maximum number set by the World Health Organization is 30.

Ma attributed these phenomena to slack supervision, incompetence of some health workers, weak public awareness of properly using medicines and some doctors' desires for profits through prescribing more antibiotic drugs even when they are unnecessary.

"These issues must be solved with multiple efforts. It will possibly take a long time to root out the problems, but we cannot turn a blind eye to it," Ma said.

During the campaign, provincial health institutions will be required to conduct spot checks on hospitals at lower levels and order immediate corrections if misuse of antibiotics is found.

The ministry will also send special teams to inspect various health institutions periodically. Institutions found with improper use of antibiotics will be exposed nationwide, and related principals and doctors will be warned or given administrative punishment.

Also on Tuesday, Ma said the ministry would map out clinical pathways for 300 kinds of diseases by 2011 in a bid to standardize healthcare processes and reduce costs.

Chinese hospitals have long been charging healthcare expenses according to items listed by doctors which, in some cases, lead to overuse of medical resources and substandard treatments.

Figures show that 1,383 pilot hospitals across the country have adopted clinical pathways as their management method.

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