The dangers of misusing antibiotics

Belinda Bantham -- Mon, 11/12/2018 - 11:52

The dangers of misusing antibiotics

Are you one of the thousands of people around the world who treat a mere headache, the flu or a stomach bug by taking antibiotics? You need to stop. The persistent overuse and misuse of antibiotics drastically contributes to the global increase in antibiotic resistance.

With 12 to 18 November being World Antibiotic Awareness Week, the North-West University (NWU’s) Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, in collaboration with the Water Research Commission, is creating awareness about the history and the use of antibiotics, best practices and antibiotic resistance. 

According to Prof Carlos Bezuidenhout from the subject group Microbiology, antibiotic resistance is the consequence of the constant exposure of bacteria to antibiotics.

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics therefore increases the antibiotic resistance rate. Bacteria that cause infections are fast becoming resistant to available antibiotics which consequently means that we are running out of treatment options.

Antibiotic resistance causes a financial burden on the government as the medication that is required to supplement the commonly available antibiotics – in cases of multiple antibiotic resistance – Is very expensive.

“Over the past few years not a lot of new antibiotics have been released on the market, so stewardship of this resource needs to be taken to ensure that they are preserved for the future,” explains Prof Bezuidenhout.

“We will be hosting two events to create awareness. The first event is a stakeholder workshop sponsored by the Water Research Commission. Public lectures will also be held on 14 November 2018 on the NWU’s campus in Potchefstroom.”

The public lectures will be held at Building B14 at 18:00. For more information, please contact Dr Lesego Molale-Tom on 018 299 2313 / 2327 or send an email to


More awareness projects

The Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management launched various awareness projects throughout the year.

Earlier this year, during Water Week that took place from 17 to 23 March, the unit ran a save water awareness programme on the campus in Potchefstroom. During this campaign they shared the importance of water and why this scarce resource should be managed sustainably.  

On 18 July, Mandela Day, they celebrated the centenary birthday of Nelson Mandela by visiting Madibeng Primary School in Potchefstroom to emphasize the value of education and share the importance of a clean environment.

Then, on International Micro-organism Day, held annually on 17 September, the unit set up a stall and invited students to view various micro-organisms using a microscope and participate in an agar art competition that showcased various bacterial growth patterns.