News and Opinions  –  2017

Antibiotic Smart Use project nominated for global UN Award

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In a major recognition of its contributions to public health Thailand’s Antibiotic Smart Use (ASU) project has been nominated for the prestigious UN Public Service Award 2017.

The Thai Office of the Civil Service Commission has forwarded the project’s nomination for the Award, which is aimed at promoting and recognizing innovation and excellence in public services. The ASU project has already won Thailand’s Public Service Award in 2016.

Pioneering work on antibiotic resistance through communities

Since its inception, over a decade ago, the ASU initiative has done pioneering work on mitigating the spread of antibiotic resistance through community participation and finding innovative ways of ensuring rational use of medicines. An estimated 19,122 patients with hospital-acquired infection died due to multi-drug resistant bacteria in Thailand in 2010.

Focus on three common ailments

The ASU project’s idea of focusing its campaign on three common ailments – upper respiratory tract infections, especially common cold with sore throat; acute diarrhea and simple wounds – for which antibiotics are not needed has helped bring focus on the issue in an effective manner. Today, the concepts and practices of ASU have become a best practice model and inspiration to public agencies working on this complex health problem in many other parts of the world.

The ASU project design is very relevant to developing country contexts, where few resources are available for the fight against the irrational use of antibiotics. It recognizes the role of communities, patients and consumers as being central to help moderate antibiotic consumption by explaining technical issues in a simple way and involving them in implementing the solutions needed.

Unnecessary prescription of antibiotics decreased

The success of the ASU project can be measured both by its helping reduce antibiotic consumption, without affecting health outcomes or patient satisfaction, and also by its scaling up for nationwide implementation by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health. Data collected between 2013 to 2016 from around 900 hospitals showed that the rates of unnecessary prescription of antibiotics in upper respiratory infections and acute diarrhea decreased from 50% to 40% and from 47% to 34%, respectively.

ReAct Collaboration

ReAct has collaborated closely with the ASU project for long and actively promoted the ASU project model as a best practice, particularly within South-East Asia. Exchange programs sponsored by ReAct have helped familiarize medical professionals and civil society groups in Indonesia, Malaysia and East Timor with the ASU project, inspiring similar initiatives in these countries. ASU researchers and officials have also participated in ReAct conferences and shared their expertise with a very wide global audience.


Epidemiology and burden of multidrug-resistant bacterial infection in a developing country. Cherry Lim et al., 2016. eLife digest. (accessed on 15 February 2017)

Sumpradit N. Food and Drug Administration, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, personal communication, 2017