The need to curb antibiotic resistance is urgent. If nothing is done, it could claim up to 10 million lives a year by 2050
Antibiotic resistance (ABR) has increased worldwide, largely because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotic medications.
The threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs is becoming increasingly common in South Africa too.
It is estimated that up to 80% of all antibiotic scripts in South Africa are predominantly for acute respiratory tract infections like sinusitis, bronchitis and pharyngitis. These infections are mostly of viral origin and shouldn’t be treated with an antibiotic. It is estimated that 60% of these antibiotic prescriptions are inappropriate.
Misuse of antibiotics has resulted in multidrug-resistant (MDR), extensively drug-resistant (XDR) and pan-drug-resistant (PDR) bacteria, which are being reported more often in South Africa and the threat of this potentially becoming our worst nightmare was already highlighted in a 2008 publication in the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ).
New BugWise app
According to Annemarie Blackmore, Antimicrobial Portfolio Manager at Pharma Dynamics, the window of opportunity to control ABR is rapidly closing, hence the urgency to launch interventions that will reduce excessive antibiotic prescribing.
One such intervention is the new BugWise app.
Developed by Pharma Dynamics, the Bugwise app aims to reduce the emergence of resistant bacteria, caused by inappropriate use of antibiotics, by making relevant and updated information readily available.
How the app works
BugWise has been designed as a one-stop app for doctors and patients alike.
“The app has been designed with the busy physician in mind and will help healthcare practitioners in private and public healthcare settings to optimise treatment while minimising antibiotic resistance. For example, doctors can input a patient’s information, such as diagnosis and chronic medications that they’re on, directly into the app and receive treatment recommendations specific to that individual.
“The app also allows doctors access to ABR surveillance data, which keeps them up to date on resistant strains that are prevalent in the area,” says Blackmore.
“Patients, on the other hand, will be able to research information on their diagnosis, along with the medication they have been prescribed. The app will inform them about antibiotics and the dangers associated with incorrect use, as well as some useful tips on how to prevent infections. They are also able to set reminders to take their medication at the correct times.
“Since most people have access to smartphones these days, we see huge value in the use of alternative and sustainable education resources such as BugWise. Educating the public is an extremely important factor in tackling ABR, as often patients put pressure on doctors to prescribe antibiotics and may not understand that often their illness is likely caused by a virus which cannot be treated with an antibiotic.”
Key features of the app
- General alerts around updated drug monographs
- Access to the latest medical and scientific publications and articles related to ABR
- Detailed microbe and medication information
- Drug interaction checker
- Antibiotic duplication checker
- Dosing calculators
- Surveillance data
The BugWise app can be accessed via both android and iOS phones, and be downloaded from any app store. Patients can register immediately to access the app, while doctors can request a code via the app by providing their healthcare practice number.
Professor Guy Richards, a specialist in ABR at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and who formed part of Pharma Dynamics’ R&D team, says BugWise can help doctors to optimise patient outcomes while minimising antibiotic resistance at the click of a button.
“We’re very excited about the app, specifically because it can be customised to include statistics for specific locations to incorporate local sensitivity patterns. BugWise makes this kind of information available to doctors in a much more efficient and accessible manner, which is ideal for busy doctors who have limited time.”
Sources: The South African Medical Journal: ‘The role of appropriate diagnostic testing in acute respiratory tract infections: An antibiotic stewardship strategy to minimise diagnostic uncertainty in primary care’ and ‘Emergence of extensive drug resistance (XDR) among Gramnegative bacilli in South Africa looms nearer’
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