Antibiotic resistance is a global threat to human health, and inappropriate use of antibiotics in humans and animals is widely considered to be a key driver of antibiotic resistant infections. Antibiotic use in humans and animals is growing rapidly in low- and, particularly, middle-income countries. However, there is little detailed understanding about practices related to the use of antibiotics in humans and animals within community settings in such countries. Here we aimed to understand the antibiotic practices of rural households across Cumilla district, Bangladesh, in relation to household members and their domestic animals.
In 2018 we conducted a cross-sectional survey using representative cluster sampling methods. We collected self-reported information from 682 female and 620 male household heads, with women also asked about their children’s antibiotic practices.
Only 48 percent (95 percent CI: 40, 56 percent) of women and men had heard of antibiotics, and among those women and men who were aware of antibiotics and the children of those women 70 percent (95 percent CI: 64, 76 percent) reported having previously taken antibiotics, while among these individuals who reported previously taking antibiotics 21 percent (95 percent CI: 18, 25 percent) said they had done so most recently within the last month. Risky/inappropriate antibiotic practices in humans and animals were often reported. For example, among women and men who were aware of antibiotics and the children of those women 52 percent (95 percent CI: 40, 63 percent) reported previously taking antibiotics for a “cough/cold”, despite antibiotics being typically inappropriate for use against viral upper respiratory tract infections. Among poultry-owning respondents who were aware of antibiotics 11 percent (95 percent CI: 8, 15 percent) reported previously giving healthy poultry antibiotics, mainly for growth/prophylaxis, while among cattle-owning respondents who were aware of antibiotics and reported previously giving their cattle feed 20 percent (95 percent CI: 9, 37 percent) said the feed had contained antibiotics at least sometimes.
Our results highlight the need for context-adapted interventions at both the community level and the health systems level to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use among humans and domestic animals in rural Bangladesh. Successfully reducing inappropriate use of antibiotics among humans and animals is a required and critical step in tackling antimicrobial resistance.
Published in BMC Public Health
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