Survey shows 6-point drop in consumption of antibiotics

42% of Maltese have taken antibiotics in the past year, a decrease of 6 points from 2016 when 48% had taken antibiotics. But the percentage of Maltese who have taken antibiotics remains 10 points higher than that of all respondents in all EU 28 countries.

Education campaigns against the misuse of antibiotics seem to be having an impact in Malta as the use of antibiotics has declined by 6 percentage points since 2016. 

But old habits die-hard and a majority of the Maltese (58%) still cling to the incorrect belief that antibiotics can kill viruses, down from 64% in 2016. This false belief is shared by 48% of respondents in all EU member states.

39% of Maltese also incorrectly believe that antibiotics can cure colds.  Since most colds are caused by viruses, antibiotics are useless in treating them. Yet in a sign of growing awareness the percentage of those who believe that antibiotics cure colds has dropped by 13 percentage points since 2016. 

But Malta still lags behind other countries in the EU.  In fact in all 28 countries only 28% believe that antibiotics can cure a cold. The survey also shows that 10% have taken antibiotics to cure a cold while 12% have taken them cause they had a cough.

42% of Maltese have taken antibiotics in the past year, a decrease of 6 points from 2016 when 48% had taken antibiotics. But the percentage of Maltese who have taken antibiotics remains 10 points higher than that of all respondents in all EU 28 countries. The consumption of antibiotics in Malta is the second highest in Europe after Italy where 47% have consumed antibiotics and similar to Spain where 42% have consumed antibiotics.

Since 2016, 65% of Maltese who obtained antibiotics through a prescription have increased by 10 points while 31% claim that the antibiotics were administrated by a medical practitioner. Only 3% said they bought the drugs over the counter.

When asked why they had taken antibiotics 22% replied that they did so because they had a sore throat, 14% because they had the flu,13% because they had fever, 12% because they had a cough, 10% because they had a cold and 7% because they had bronchitis.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of micro-organisms (such as bacteria and some parasites) to become increasingly resistant to an antibiotic to which they were previously susceptible. AMR is now considered a threat to public health in Europe and other parts of the world and is responsible for over 25,000 deaths annually within the EU and costs more than EU 1.5 billion euros each year in terms of healthcare costs and productivity losses.

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