World Antibiotic Awareness Week is celebrated from 13 November to 17 November to increase awareness of global antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policymakers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.
This year’s theme is ‘Seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics.’ Antibiotics are a precious resource, so it is important to get the right advice before taking them. This will ensure that you and your family get the best treatment and proper use of antibiotics will also help in decreasing antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance is occurring everywhere in the world and affecting the treatment of infectious diseases. Though the antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, the misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process. A large number of infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhea are becoming difficult to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective now.
Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of these medicines. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply, causing more harm.
Antimicrobial resistance is called 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 antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs.
Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them speeds up antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic-resistant infections are more complex and harder to treat. They can affect anyone, of any age, in any country. We all have a part to play in preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics by preventing the spread of infections and changing how we prescribe and use these medicines.
Tackling antibiotic resistance is a high priority for World Health Organisation (WHO) therefore the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2015 formed the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (GAP-AMR) including antibiotic resistance and one of the key objectives of the plan is to raise awareness about antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training.
WHO is also coordinating ‘Antibiotics: Handle with care’ a global campaign to raise awareness and encourage best practices among the public, policymakers, health and agriculture professionals as part of the implementation of objective 1 of the global action plan on antimicrobial resistance.
National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR) 2017 – 2021, India*
The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India has formulated the National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR) in alignment with the global action plan (GAP-AMR) in April 2017.
The National Health Policy 2017 identifies antimicrobial resistance as a problem and calls for effective action to address it such as framing guidelines regarding antibiotic use, limiting the use of antibiotics as over-the-counter medications, banning or restricting the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal livestock, and pharmacovigilance including prescription audits for antibiotic usage in the hospital and community.
An international conference on antimicrobial resistance-“Combating Antimicrobial Resistance: A Public Health Challenge and Priority”, was jointly organized by the Government of India and WHO in February 2016.
In addition, the MoHFW has also identified AMR as one of the top 10 priorities for the Ministry’s collaborative work with WHO for 2018–2019.
You can help prevent antibiotic resistance:
Preventing infection can reduce the use of antibiotics, and limit the spread of antibiotic resistance. Good basic hygiene is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of infection. Good hygiene includes:
- washing your hands properly
- preparing food hygienically
- avoiding close contact with sick people
- practicing safer sex
- keeping your and children’s vaccinations up-to-date
- standing up for your right to safe water and sanitation
v always following the advice of a qualified health care professional when taking antibiotics
v not demanding antibiotics if your health worker says you don’t need them
v not sharing antibiotics with others
v not using leftover antibiotics
Messages to promote the safe use of antibiotics:
v Always seek the advice of a qualified health care professional when taking antibiotics.
v Misuse of antibiotics puts us all at risk.
v Antibiotics do not treat viral infections, like colds and flu.
v It is the bacteria itself, not the person or the animal that becomes resistant to antibiotics.
v Antibiotic-resistant infections can lead to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and more deaths.
v Effective waste treatment can protect the environment and reduce antibiotic resistance.
v For animals, seek advice from a qualified veterinarian.
“It is not too late to reduce the impact of antibiotic resistance”.
How much do you know about antibiotic resistance? Take the Quiz by WHO