Sixty-four per cent said antibiotic resistance is an issue and 73 per cent said farmers should reduce their use of antibiotics.
“The rise of antibiotic resistance is a global health crisis, and governments now recognize it as one of the greatest challenges for public health today,” says Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO).
“It is reaching dangerously high levels in all parts of the world,” she said. “Antibiotic resistance is compromising our ability to treat infectious diseases and undermining many advances in medicine.”
The survey asked 14 questions on the use of antibiotics, knowledge of antibiotics and of antibiotic resistance, and used a mix of online and face-to-face interviews.
It was conducted in Barbados, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, the Russian Federation, Serbia, South Africa, Sudan and Viet Nam.
While not claiming to be exhaustive, this and other surveys will help WHO and partners to determine the key gaps in public understanding of the problem and misconceptions about how to use antibiotics to be addressed through the campaign.
Some common misconceptions revealed by the survey include:
Three quarters (76 percent) of respondents think that antibiotic resistance happens when the body becomes resistant to antibiotics. In fact bacteria — not humans or animals — become resistant to antibiotics and their spread causes hard-to-treat infections.
Two thirds (66 percent) of respondents believe that individuals are not at risk of a drug-resistant infection if they personally take their antibiotics as prescribed. Nearly half (44 percent) of people surveyed think antibiotic resistance is only a problem for people who take antibiotics regularly. In fact, anyone, of any age, in any country can get an antibiotic-resistant infection.
More than half (57 percent) of respondents feel there is not much they can do to stop antibiotic resistance, while nearly two thirds (64 percent) believe medical experts will solve the problem before it becomes too serious.
The full report is available on the internet at http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/194460/1/9789241509817_eng.pdf?ua=1 .