About 88% of the antibiotics in the cities are sold without a prescription and the number in the rural areas is even higher at 91%.
The World Health Organisation listed Vietnam among countries with the highest antibiotic-resistant infections in 2015.
However, the amount of sold antibiotics is still on the rise as more antimicrobial-resistant viruses have appeared.
Nguyen Gia Binh, head of the Vietnam National Association of Emergency, Intensive Care Medicine and Clinical Toxicology, had expressed worry about the high antibiotic resistance in Vietnam and the challenges to medical facilities, especially in the southern region. The antibiotic resistance rates for E. coli is 74.6% and 90% for A. baumannii.
According to Luong Ngoc Khue, Director General of the Medical Examination and Treatment Department, while the first generation of antibiotics is still effective in many countries, Vietnam has to use third and fourth generation pharmaceuticals.
More worrisome, many doctors also abuse antibiotics. Statistics from Cho Ray Hospital show that 50% of antibiotics are improperly prescribed, 32% doctors prescribed antibiotics to patients without infections and 33% doctors unnecessarily prescribed prolonged-course antibiotics.
The pace of finding new antibiotics is no match to the appearance of new antibiotic-resistant viruses.
From 1983 to 1987, the US Food and Drug Administration only issued licenses to 18 new antibiotics.
According to WHO, from now to 2050, antimicrobial-resistant infections could lead to a death every three seconds, killing off 10 million people per year.
The Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien had set up a monitoring team to prevent the antibiotic-resistance rate from going higher during 2017-2020 period.
The situation is worse in children. Tran Minh Dien, vice director of the National Children’s Hospital, said one-third of hospitalised kids were drug resistant.
Many parents googled their children's illness and bought the medicines themselves.
Pham Thanh Xuan, former head of the paediatric department of Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, warned parents against the improper use of antibiotics which could harm their children's development as each child has different reactions to drugs.
The treatment for a child with asthma and a running nose is different for a child without asthma.
On November 12, the Ministry of Health joined with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, World Health Organisation in Vietnam and Food and Agriculture Organisation in Vietnam to hold a ceremony to commit to using antibiotics responsibly.
This was the first event in Antibiotic Week in Vietnam from November 13 to 20.