Keekli Bureau, 11th December, 2019
Antibiotics are important and powerful medicines and should only be taken when prescribed by a healthcare worker, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) happens when microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics). Microorganisms that develop AMR are sometimes referred to as “superbugs”. As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. AMR occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is accelerating this process.
Antimicrobial resistance is a complex problem that affects all of society and is driven by many interconnected factors. Single, isolated interventions have limited impact. Coordinated action is required to minimize the emergence and spread of AMR.
All countries need national action plans on AMR, and greater innovation and investment are required in research and development of new antimicrobial medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tools. According to WHO, AMR is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world and is threatening our ability to combat common infectious diseases and support modern medical procedures.
Each November, World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to increase global awareness of antibiotic resistance (AMR) and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.
In 2015, the Sixty-Eighth World Health Assembly, endorsed the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, calling for a dedicated global campaign to raise public awareness and understanding of antibiotic resistance. But for now, global awareness of all these issues remains relatively low. Although raising individuals’ awareness of antibiotics and resistance is important, the campaign recognizes that real and actionable change happens when communities everywhere become engaged.
Bacteria exist as a normal part of everyday life; in our air and water, on our skin and inside our bodies. While some bacteria can be helpful, others can be harmful and lead to infections. Although there are two main types of infections, viral and bacterial, antibiotics should only be used to treat bacterial infections. They do not work against viruses, such as colds and flu.