China in 'overuse' of antibiotics

Oct. 21, 2011 at 3:02 PM

BEIJING, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Antibiotics are being "heavily overused" in Chinese hospitals, threatening serious side effects for the health of an entire generation, medical experts said.

The average annual consumption of antibiotics per capita in China amounts to 138 grams, 10 times the level in the United States, Xiao Yonghong, an expert with the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology at Peking University, said.

China's Health Ministry said 70 percent of Chinese inpatients have received antibiotics while the maximum number set by the World Health Organization is 30 percent, Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, reported Friday.

Antibiotics are particularly overused in the treatment of children, experts said, with one third of the daily 10,000 outpatients at the Beijing Children's Hospital being given intravenous drips that largely contain antibiotics.

"Some doctors might lack proper training on how to apply antibiotics in a more precise way and avoid potential risks. Some simply want to play it safe," said Zhu Zhenggang, president of the Shanghai-based Ruijin Hospital.

The ministry said it has launched a nationwide campaign to regulate the use of antibiotics to ensure safe medical practices.

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