World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) 2018
Something is threatening our ability to effectively treat & prevent infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi. That something is called Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
Antimicrobial Resistance- the short version
Have you heard of “superbugs” in news reports? This is a term that is used to describe microorganisms that have been repeatedly treated with antibiotics, medically necessary or not. The microorganisms have genetically adapted to be able to resist treatment. These AMR microbes are found all around us in the environment; people, animals, food, water, soil, even our air. Consider the fight-or-flight response seen in humans. I would consider the AMR phenomenon a fight response developed by the microorganisms that invade our bodies; they’re fighting for their own survival!
Why is AMR such a concern?
I think it goes without saying that not being able to treat infection is a problem. We already know that at least some form of AMR microbes exist in every country. How would we get rid of that nasty case of pneumonia, the MRSA infection that grandpa picked up when he was sent to the emergency room, or the preventative antibiotics that Auntie Kay has been taking following her hip replacement surgery?
The discovery of antibiotics changed the climate for healthcare across the globe, but that advancement is being seriously challenged by the spreading of AMR microbes. During a recent global survey done in 2016, results show that 490,000 people have developed multi-drug resistance. This has unfortunately already started to complicate the fight against HIV and Malaria.
The World Health Organization says:
Those pesky superbugs are emerging and spreading, threatening our ability to treat diseases, resulting in prolonged illnesses, disability, and death.
Without a viable option for infection prevention, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, chemotherapy, diabetes management, and major surgery become extremely high risk.
AMR increases healthcare costs due to lengthier stays in the hospital because more intensive care is required.
Why is AMR happening?
Scientists say that AMR occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. Because of the misuse &/or overuse of antibiotics, this naturally occurring process is being accelerated. AMR microbes are spread between people and animals many ways, some being unsatisfactory infection control protocols, inadequate sanitary conditions, or inappropriate food-handling procedures.
Examples of Antibiotic misuse:
Antibiotics being taken by people with viral infections, such as a cold or flu (antibiotics do not treat viral infections)
Antibiotics being given as growth promoters in animals
Antibiotics being used solely as preventative measures to keep animals healthy
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION’S GLOBAL ACTION PLAN
Get Informed- Why is antimicrobial resistance (AMR) happening? Why does it pose a risk to our future health? What can we do to help?
Gather Data- Laboratories in every country are looking for evidence of resistance in bacteria. This helps us to build a global picture of how AMR is happening, how it is spreading, and where the greatest risks are found.
Prevent Infections- Encourage all hospitals and health-care centers to be diligent to keep infections at bay by using the best possible sanitation and hygiene measures available.
Regulate Medicines- Use only antibiotics that are still effective very wisely, regulate how they are distributed, ensure they are only given to patients who really need them, and handle them with care.
Invest Now- Urge governments, funding agencies, and the private sector to invest in new tools, skills, and technologies we need to build a smarter world in which our medicines are secured for generations to come.
I urge you to learn as much about this topic as you can. Get involved, spread the word, and make this a topic of conversation. It is certainly deserving of such! I personally am scared to think of a world where healthcare professionals have nothing to offer me to fight an infection, or even worse, our parents or children. Below, I have included several informational websites to visit if you have the time. We all have a duty to protect our future! #StopDrugResistance #AntibioticResistance #WAAW18
Statistics and information gathered from the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization. I am not a medical professional, and this is not intended as medical advice. If you have a health concern, please contact your healthcare provider.
To view the World Health Organization’s Fact Sheet on Antimicrobial resistance, click below:
Click below to read 7 myths on the use of Antibiotics:
Interactive platform: Click below to learn how to handle antibiotics with care: