Nearly 50% of patients self-medicate using antibiotics, and 53% wrongly believe antibiotics can treat viral infections, reveals AURAK research

32% admit they bought drugs from the pharmacy to treat bacterial infections without a prescription

Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, March 24, 2023: Approximately 50% of people surveyed have self-medicated using antibiotics, and wrongly believe antibiotics can be used to treat viral infections.

These are some of the findings from a research study conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr. Cijo Vazhappilly from the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) in collaboration with researchers from Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) and Ras Al Khaimah Medical and Health Sciences University (RAKMHSU). The study, funded by the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, focused on understanding awareness, attitude, practice, and perceptions about the use of antibiotics among the general public in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

Of the 306 residents who responded, 49% reported having self-medicated using antibiotics at least once. Nearly, 32% of the respondents admitted they had purchased drugs from the pharmacy to treat bacterial infections without a prescription in the last 1-2 years.

Another notable revelation was that more than half of the participants (52.94%) believed that antibiotics can be used to treat viral infections such as viral fever, thus contributing to antibiotic resistance.

Prof. Stephen Wilhite, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success/ Provost, AURAK said: “As a university committed to conducting research into critical topics, we are happy that our researchers have touched on a topic that is of vital importance in modern healthcare. The findings are highly relevant to efforts to limit antibiotic resistance in this part of the world.”

Dr. Mohamed Al Zarooni, Associate Provost for Research and Community Service, AURAK: “We are happy to have gathered some vital data on the spread of antibiotic resistance and thus guide policy makers on what needs to be done to tackle this very serious health issue. Though confined to the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, we believe the trends would be similar across the UAE. We do hope that people at large and medical practitioners in particular act suitably to limit antibiotic resistance.”

The research was conducted by senior academics and a group of students from AURAK’s Department of Biotechnology in the School of Arts and Sciences.