Banning pharmacies from handing over antibiotics without prescription has been hailed by health authorities as one of the measures leading to a 43 per cent decrease in their use.
Antibacterial resistance is expected to be the leading cause of death by 2050, as inappropriate use has led to some existing drugs to be ineffective.
The figures were revealed at a Ministry of Health and Prevention International conference on antimicrobial resistance in Dubai.
Dr Hussein Al Rand, assistant undersecretary for health centres and clinics, said the figures were revealed in research by Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Abu Dhabi of public and private health providers.
“The ministry’s relentless efforts made in co-operation with relevant public and private health bodies have resulted in reducing the use of antibiotics by 43 per cent, according to our recent studies,” he said.
Authorities did not reveal details of the study, or from what period antibiotic use was recorded.
Mr Al Rand lauded the cabinet law issued against buying antibiotics without prescription and said the UAE has introduced the latest state-of-the-art antibiotics to fight bacteria resistant infections.
Without greater research and development of new antibiotics, routine operations like caesarian sections or hip-replacements could become dangerous by exposing patients to deadly infections.
A national committee on antimicrobial resistance was established in 2014 to tackle areas of improvement for misuse of antibiotics, and tighten control.
An action plan to implement tough new measures was then introduced in 2017.
A five pronged attack on antimicrobial resistance was launched, starting with greater awareness among medics and patients, a strengthening of knowledge through research and reducing infections through better clinical hygiene.
The plan also incorporated more appropriate use of antibiotics in human and animal health, and sustainable investment through research and development.
“Resistance of microbes to antibiotics is one of the greatest risks to global health and food security due to the misuse of antibiotics when given to humans and animals,” said Dr Najiba Abdulrazzaq, head of the infection prevention and control central committee at the Ministry of Health in Dubai.
“This has led the treatment of increased infection to be less effective owning to the loss of antibiotics efficiency, which would lead to longer stay in hospitals, high medical costs, increased mortality.”