Dr Luis Bavestrello, Chile
A study of the consumption of antimicrobials in Chile in 1998 demonstrated a significant increase in consumption in each of the previous ten years. As a result, the Ministry of Health adopted an action plan to promote the rational use of antimicrobials. The plan included:
• restrictions on the sale of antimicrobials,
• public information provided through leaflets and posters in private pharmacies,
• an education campaign with extensive coverage,
• monitoring of compliance with restrictions on sales.
The measures had an important impact on consumption in the community, which could already be discerned in 1999, and was more marked in 2000. The following conclusions may be drawn:
• The measures contributed to a considerable saving for the population.
• A programme of rational use requires a permanent multidisciplinary approach and epidemiological monitoring.
• The impact of the regulatory measures is reflected in the short term in an impact on consumption and therefore in economic terms; the impact of the measures on resistance is seen only in the longer term.
• To succeed, there is a need for political will, public consultation and education, and effective measures.
• The success of the long-term programme depends on the maintenance, supervision and control of the measures by all involved, including physicians, prescribers, pharmacists and the community in general.