Our co-creator has encouraged her fellow professionals and patients everywhere to wage war on the world’s biggest health problem – because governments seemingly won’t.
Speaking in the wake of another largely ignored campaign on antimicrobial awareness, Dr Anita Sharma said that there was growing evidence that antibiotics were not working to cure even simple infections. Plus, their residue was polluting rivers and food, and potentially killing millions.
And she said only decent diagnostic tools to help doctors decide when they should be used, allied to less pressure from patients to prescribe them as a cure-all, was now the only way to avoid calamity.
In an open letter to medics, the women’s health expert said: “Of the 5.1 million antibiotics prescribed in UK primary care, 43.6% were given to patients who already received five plus antibiotics prescriptions in the previous three years. That is clearly overuse and misuse.
“This year, the University of Manchester and I are working on a research project which aims to optimise antibiotic prescribing in primary care, through better information during consultation and personalised patient leaflets. This in my opinion will help not only GPs but also other health care professionals working in primary care who are involved in prescribing and managing antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria in our bodies become resistant to antibiotics – rendering them useless. Taking too many antibiotics also blunts their effectiveness. Mendacious farmers have used antibiotics to allegedly protect their livestock, which means their residue is in the food chain (fears are that Brexit may promote more American imported meat where antibiotic usage is less controlled). Even our rivers are saturated with antibiotics, says Dr Sharma.
The GP's plea comes at the close of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-24 November), another worthy attempt at increasing knowledge of the condition to the public and clinicians. “A problem of this magnitude deserves a properly funded global education campaign, a commitment to creating new antibiotics and a will to sanction those who abuse this most important medicine."
Britain’s health inequalities have grown so acute that women are flying overseas for cut-price treatment, rather than endure painful three-year waits for routine operations in the UK.
That is the message our founder Dr Anita Sharma heard at an open forum for predominantly South Asian women in Oldham, recently.
And while the female health expert did not decry the standard of healthcare in developing countries, she expressed great concern that patients were “playing dice with their health and also leaving families back in Britain motherless for months, potentially.”
Said Dr Sharma: “Do I blame a woman for travelling to another country to have a hysterectomy rather than go through relentless bleeding and pain? No. Do I worry about her doing so? Absolutely. The quality of care, particularly in rural areas of some countries is nowhere near the standard of most NHS hospitals. Also, what if something goes wrong and you become dangerously ill? I personally believe that a lot of private healthcare is motivated by money rather than the patient, and what appears to be your initial bill for treatment could grow and grow.”
Drastic underinvestment in healthcare prior to and following COVID was blamed by Dr Sharma for what she called, “unacceptable delays in appointment times and treatment.” But she also stated that a lack of concern about women’s health in general, had spurned “desperate action from patients.”
She continued: “Let us look at a condition such as the menopause. It can cause horrendous physical and mental health effects and yet some men – including employers and even male doctors – assume it is just a natural part of ageing. Women from the South Asian community are often told to “get on with it” and dissuaded from ever discussing gynaecological problems, which are seen as taboo.”
Women attending the event, organised by the CHAI Charity, confirmed Dr Sharma’s beliefs, claiming they only had older friends to talk to when facing an issue such as endometriosis.
"This has the ability to cripple and is so relentless it takes away women’s chances of a career, takes seven to ten years to diagnose” she concluded. “That is because little or no resource has been ploughed into solving it and even medics are blissfully unaware of how to spot the symptoms.
This is typical of the malaise we are fighting. Yes, the lion’s share of the blame for health inequalities lies with decision-makers but we all have a duty to do more and protect our mothers, sisters, wives and partners from pain, and the spectre of having to seek inappropriate treatment, abroad.”
One of our founders Dr Anita Sharma blogs on a new campaign to get women to visit midwifery sooner in their pregnancy.
But is there more to persuading BAME women than mere better communication? Is it a question of trust? And is this another example of women’s health coming a poor second to that of men – like endometriosis does?
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Click onto our brand new movie, detailing what Endometriosis Awareness North is all about Endometriosis Awareness North - YouTube
Featuring our treasured case study Courtney, it also gives medics a platform to call for quicker diagnosis of endometriosis.
With thanks to filmmakers Andrea Bertozzi and Pete Gibson Media.