Spread awareness, stop resistance

Celebrated between November 18-24 each year, the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers, farmers, animal health professionals and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

This year’s theme is ‘spread awareness, stop resistance’, with the overarching slogan of ‘Antimicrobials: Handle With Care.’ This time, the campaign is calling on everyone to learn about antimicrobial resistance (AMR for short) and raise awareness of what can control and affect its spread.

But what is it? Described as a global health and development threat by WHO, antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics – are medicines used to treat infections in humans, animals and plants.

WHO says: “All around the world bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites are changing and starting not to respond to the medicines used to treat the infections they cause. This antimicrobial resistance emerges naturally, usually through genetic changes. However, the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials have accelerated the development of antimicrobial resistance, as has a lack of clean water and sanitation and inadequate infection prevention and control. This makes infections harder to treat, which increases the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

“The rise of drug-resistant pathogens threatens to undo more than a century’s work of health progress and undermine the very foundations of modern medicine. For example, bacterial infections resistant to antibiotics could make vital medical procedures like organ transplants, joint replacements, cancer care, and care of preterm infants too dangerous to perform. AMR can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.

“Antimicrobial resistance also affects and is affected by animals and the environment. The use of antimicrobials in animal health is driven by the large and growing burden of animal diseases, the increasing scale of animal production, and underinvestment in veterinary services and animal health. Reducing the inappropriate use of antimicrobials in animals must address these underlying issues.”

So, if you see the hashtags #WAAW #AMR #AntimicrobialResistance #HandleWithCare on social media this week, you know why.

Our infection control team here at St Hugh’s Hospital is supporting the campaign. To find out more about AMR, visit www.who.int/campaigns/world-antimicrobial-awareness-week/2021