Jakarta. Superbugs have become a dreadful new phenomenon in the medical world.
According to pediatrician Ariani Dewi Widodo, the term superbugs refers to bacteria that have become resistant to most antibiotics.
"Those bacteria are super strong," Ariani said in an interview during the launch of Lifebuoy ActivSilver in Jakarta on Thursday (30/03).
Unfortunately, humans are often the culprits who cause the bacteria to become stronger.
"Many of us buy over-the-counter antibiotics when we get ill, and then stop taking them as soon as we feel better," Ariani said. "As a result, the bacteria don't die, but become stronger."
Dense populations and poor hygiene then help spread these bacteria to other people.
"Those infected would then perhaps take another type of antibiotic and not finish it, thus making the bacteria even stronger," Ariani said.
Among the superbugs often found in Indonesia these days are acinetobacter and serratia marcescens, the pediatrician said.
"Those bacteria cause sepsis [heavy infection of multiple organs], which can be life-threatening, especially among small children," said Ariani, who works at Rumah Sakit Anak & Bunda Harapan Kita in West Jakarta.
But parents should not panic. We can help protect our families from superbugs with a few simple tips.
Physical activity can help boost children's immune systems and prepare their bodies to fight off strong bacteria.
"Encourage your kids to play sports, instead of playing with their gadgets" Ariani said. "And make it a habit to walk and take the stairs, instead of taking the elevator."
A balanced diet and enough rest are also necessary to maintain children's physical well-being.
"Your own immune system is a stronghold against bacteria," Ariani said. "When your body is fit, your immune system works well and is able to defeat almost any bacteria that invade the body."
Parents should also introduce good hygiene to their children as soon as possible.
"Teach your kids to always wash their hands with soap before eating and after going to the loo," the pediatrician said.
Parents should also remember to introduce the same standards of hygiene to their domestic helpers.
"If your home assistant doesn't practice good hygiene, [they] may help spread bacteria all over your house, which may cause you and your kids to become ill," Ariani said.
And to curb the spread of harmful bacteria, you should not let your children go to school when they are ill.
"Many parents in Indonesia think that it's a shame for kids to miss school when they're not very ill," Ariani said. "But actually, you have to think of other kids in school, who may catch the bacteria and become sick because of yours."
Finally, you and your children should only take antibiotics when they are prescribed by a doctor.
"You should also remember to take the antibiotics at regular intervals and always complete the course of treatment," Ariani said.