Western Cape is promoting the responsible use of antibiotics and antimicrobials | Western Cape Government


Western Cape is promoting the responsible use of antibiotics and antimicrobials

8 September 2023

Providing antibiotic and other antimicrobial treatment that results in the best clinical outcomes with minimal side effects to patients and minimal impact on subsequent resistance is a high priority for the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness (WCGHW).

Pharmacy Month is commemorated in September with the themes including antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) and reporting of adverse drug reactions (ADRs). AMS comprises of actions to promote the responsible use of antibiotics, while the person reporting a suspected adverse drug reaction becomes a source of data on the safety of medicinal products.

“The 1 046 pharmacy personnel (447 pharmacists and 599 pharmacy support personnel) in the province are a valuable part of our health system, and their efforts lead to positive outcomes for our patients. A total number of 1,09 million prescriptions were administered by the public health system between the period (April 2022 to March 2023), thereby helping many patients to live healthier, longer and more fulfilling lives,” said Kim Lowenherz, Director of Medicine Management, Laboratory and Blood Services Support at the WCGHW.

The province’s AMS interventions include educating patients and healthcare workers on the responsible use of antibiotics, conducting audits, analysing antibiotic usage data, and health professionals providing regular feedback on ADRs.

The province has established the Provincial Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee which makes recommendations on AMS interventions to the department. The committee also promotes appropriate evidence-based strategies to prevent community- and hospital based acquired infections (thereby reducing the need for antibiotics), in consultation and collaboration with relevant provincial structures.

The WCGHW encourages residents to follow these steps to ensure that they use antibiotics appropriately and help us to combat antibiotic resistance.

  • Do not share your medicines with anyone else.
  • Only use antibiotics when prescribed by your doctor or nurse.
  • Take your medicines correctly as prescribed by the doctor or nurse.
  • Hand hygiene is the most important measure to prevent the spread of infections, so wash your hands regularly.
  • Speak to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you have any queries or experience any side effects when taking your medicine.
  • Keep your vaccinations up to date.
  • Do not dispose of medicines in the washbasin, kitchen sink, toilet, or municipal waste bin.
  • Return all unused medicines to your pharmacy. Your pharmacist knows how to dispose of unwanted medicine safely and legally to protect the environment.

The Western Cape remains committed to AMS, and we thank our pharmacy personnel who promote the appropriate use of antibiotics. Working together we can change the direction of containing antibiotic resistance and ensure that people have access to safe and effective antibiotics.