PETALING JAYA - Despite countless warnings of its dangers, antibiotics are still seen as harmless by Malaysians.
Salesman S. Ramesh, 34, said antibiotics were usually among the medication dispensed by his GP "just in case I need it".
He said his earnings were based on commission so he could not lose his voice or be sick for long periods of time.
"Antibiotics help me recover faster. My company pays for it so I'm not worried about the extra cost," he said.
Van driver M. Kumar, 40, said he usually goes to the pharmacy for common ailments.
"I'm out in the sun everyday. Cough, sore throat and flu are normal. I don't bother going to the doctor because I can get the same medication from pharmacists, including antibiotics. It's cheaper," he said.
He, however, said he did not take antibiotics unless he had been sick for more than a week.
Housewife Gan Su Chin, 28, does not believe in letting her children take antibiotics unless it is really necessary.
"I will always ask the doctor how sure he was if the infection is bacterial.
"If I'm not satisfied with his reply, I will go for a second opinion."
Fomca secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj said healthcare professionals, the Health Ministry and non-governmental organisations must work together to educate the public on the dangers and proper usage of antibiotics.
While it was true that patients tended to ask for antibiotics, he said it was because they were misinformed.
"No one will ask for something that is bad for them. Consistent know-your-medicine campaigns are needed," he said, urging doctors not to give in to requests by patients for antibiotics unless medically necessary.