Research, by Wits University and the London School of Economics, found that 78% of patients sent to a public clinic and 67% sent to a private general practitioner received antibiotics even though they were not necessary.

A new study has found that local primary care providers prescribe antibiotics for respiratory tract infections even though they are caused by viruses, not bacteria.

The study found SA has among the highest rates of antibiotic resistance (ABR) in the world. “… unnecessary antibiotic prescribing is known to be related to… ABR…This poses a threat to public health as some common infections are now much more difficult to treat.

“Respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold and acute bronchitis, are amongst the main problem areas because primary care providers prescribe antibiotics for these infections even though they are caused by viruses rather than bacteria,” Wits University said in a statement.

The research came ahead of the annual colds and flu season in SA with the World Health Organisation reporting that up to 600 000 people die globally each year from influenza. Health expert, Vanessa Ascencao, stressed the importance for patients to boost their immunity in order to protect against infection. “This includes regular exercise and getting enough sleep,” she said.

“A healthy, balanced diet is essential to fuel the body and feed the immune system. “We eat too much refined and ‘junk’ food, red meat, and sugar when we should be nourishing the body with whole, natural, fibrous foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains such as brown rice and raw oats, and limited, quality, organic protein such as ethically farmed lean meat, poultry and fish, or seeds, nuts, beans, and legumes.”

Ascencao said research indicates that vitamin D supplementation may cut flu risk significantly, while supplementing with vitamin C may shorten the duration of colds and may be helpful in supporting immunity, protecting cells from free radical damage, and cardiovascular and chronic disease, and promoting muscle repair.

HEALTH EXPERT VANESSA ASCENCAO SUGGESTED THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL TIPS TO STAY HEALTHY THIS WINTER:

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Try adding lemon, honey, ginger, and garlic to water.
  • Manage stress and anxiety – try yoga, mindfulness, or meditation.
  • Consult a health and wellness expert to help improve your quality of life.