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Top cook promotes wise use of antibiotics

Pharmac Release

Top cook promotes wise use of antibiotics this winter

PHARMAC and doctors say chicken soup – not antibiotics – will help ease the discomforts of colds and flu this winter, and they have enlisted the help of a top Kiwi cooking expert to get the message across.

Alison Holst is fronting a campaign promoting the wise use of antibiotics, and was among those attending a launch at Medical Laboratory Wellington this morning.

The campaign is being run by more than 20 independent doctors groups, which include about 2,500 doctors, and supported nationally by PHARMAC.

PHARMAC’s Medical Director Dr Peter Moodie says Alison Holst is a great person to lead the fight against the misuse of antibiotics as she epitomises a common sense approach and the solid basics of healthcare. Her husband and daughter are both doctors, and she is well aware of the importance of using antibiotics properly.

“People can feel hard done by if they don’t get a prescription for antibiotics when they see their doctor about a winter cough, cold or the flu. But part of promoting the wise use of the medicines is about changing that expectation and offering different approaches,” he says.

Dr Moodie says he’s sure people suffering from a cold or flu will find a great remedy in one of Alison Holst’s many cookbooks, as chicken soup is just one great example of a back-to-basics approach.

“Modern medicines have their place and prevention is best. But if you don’t have a influenza vaccination or if you become ill with a cold or flu despite having one, old-fashioned remedies is the key. Chicken soup, plenty of fluid, rest and steam inhalation helps beat colds and flu, along with the use of regular paracetamol, decongestants, throat lozenges or gargles.”

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2/Top cook promotes wise use of antibiotics this winter

“Of course, the other advice which people need to take on board is that if at any stage they feel unsure they shouldn’t be afraid to seek further medical advice. The message is simple: if in doubt, check it out.”

He says this year’s campaign aims to build on the success of last year’s, with doctors reporting that people are starting to get the message about the need to use antibiotics wisely.

Doctors say they are writing fewer prescriptions for antibiotics, and that patients are not insisting on prescriptions for illnesses that antibiotics cannot help.

But he says there is no room for complacency and the message has not yet got through to everyone.

“Antibiotics are powerful medicines that are effective against a wide range of bacteria that can cause serious infections. But most colds and flu are caused by viruses that antibiotics cannot kill and using antibiotics unnecessarily may cause side effects and contribute to the growing problem of antibacterial resistance,” he says.

However, Dr Moodie says that when antibiotics are prescribed for a bacterial infection rather than a viral one, it is very important that they are used as directed.

“People need to take the full course and not give up when they start feeling better.”

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