World Antimicrobial Awareness Week

world antimicrobial awareness week

21/11/2022

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites evolve and cease to respond to medications, making infections more difficult to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, and death. Antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective as a result of drug resistance, and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat.

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is an annual global campaign to raise awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and encourage best practices among the general public, One Health stakeholders, and policymakers, all of whom play an important role in preventing the emergence and spread of AMR. It is observed from 18th to 24th Nov every year.

What are antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance?

Antibiotics revolutionized medicine in the twentieth century. They are now widely used to treat bacterial infections. Each year, more than 150 million prescriptions for antibiotics are written in the United States. However, bacteria are adapting to the drugs and becoming more difficult to kill. This is known as antibiotic resistance.

Antimicrobials treat a variety of illnesses caused by microbes. Here are a few examples:

  • Strep throat
  • Pneumonia
  • Food poisoning
  • Colds
  • Influenza (the flu)
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Yeast infections
  • Tapeworms
  • Gonorrhea
  • Urinary tract infections

If you have one of these illnesses caused by a resistant organism, your treatment may not be effective. Imagine having pneumonia and not being able to get rid of it no matter how much penicillin you take. The microbes inside you have evolved in such a way that they can continue to live and grow despite drugs designed to kill them.

Causes

Microbes are living organisms that evolve over time, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Their primary function is to rapidly reproduce, thrive, and spread. As a result, microbes adapt to their environments and change to ensure their survival. If something, such as an antimicrobial, inhibits their ability to grow, genetic changes can occur that allow the microbe to survive.

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics develops naturally. Our actions, on the other hand, have the potential to accelerate the development and spread of resistance. This is possible:

  • When human and animal health professionals over-prescribe antibiotics
  • When people do not take antibiotics as directed by their health professional
  • Due to poor hygiene and a lack of infection prevention and control

For example: not washing hands properly

  • Due to people traveling around the world and spreading resistant bacteria

Preventing antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance can affect anyone at any age, but you are at a higher risk if you have a weakened immune system or have frequent infections that require antimicrobial therapy. The more you get sick, the more likely you are to become infected with a resistance germ.

AMR is a threat to humans, animals, plants, and the environment. It has an impact on everyone. This is why this year's theme encourages cross-sector collaboration to ensure the efficacy of these critical medicines. Combating AMR is a truly global endeavour that requires a One Health approach.

To effectively combat it, all sectors must collaborate to promote the prudent use of antimicrobials as well as preventive measures. These are some of the critical factors that can help reduce the need for antimicrobials while also limiting the emergence and spread of AMR.

  • Infection prevention and control in hospitals, farms, and food processing plants
  • Providing vaccines, clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
  • Putting best practices in food and agriculture production into action
  • Ensure that relevant industries manage their waste and wastewater properly

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnostic laboratory tests can identify which microbe is causing an infection and whether the microbes present are resistant to antimicrobial medications. These tests, however, can take days or even weeks. This is due to the fact that microbes must be grown in a laboratory before they can be identified.

Anyone suffering from an antimicrobial-resistant infection may be required to:

  • Change your medication
  • Increase the strength of an antimicrobial
  • Take the medication for an extended period of time
  • Attempt combining several medications
  • Experiment with non-pharmaceutical treatments

The unnecessary use and misuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobials is worsening the global problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Infections become much more difficult or impossible to treat when microbes become resistant. Antimicrobial Awareness Week (formerly Antibiotic Awareness Week), which runs from November 18 to 24, encourages informed, careful use of these life-saving medications in order to keep them working for future generations.

According to the World Health Organization, antimicrobial resistance is one of the top ten global public health threats. It threatens to undo modern medicine's miracles. If antimicrobial resistance continues to spread at its current rate, healthcare providers will no longer be able to cure infections. Fortunately, organizations such as the WHO and the CDC are working to monitor, research, prevent, and combat antimicrobial resistance.

Medical Disclaimer

Any medical information referred to in or through our blog is provided as information only and is not intended:

  • as medical diagnosis or treatment
  • to replace consultation with a qualified medical practitioner

Speaking to a doctor and using prescribed medication will always be the right course of action to prevent or reduce the signs of any illness. Buying over-the-counter medication without doctor’s consultation could eventually lead to wrong diagnosis and also antimicrobial resistance. Let’s spread awareness and prevent the spread of AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance) by educating those around us and advocating for doctor’s consultation rather than self-researched medication.