By Lucyna Gozdzielewska
Every year from 18-24 November we celebrate the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW). This initiative began in 2015, after the World Health Organization recognised the problem of antimicrobial resistance as a priority and subsequently identified it as an urgent global health threat. That same year the WHO endorsed a global action plan on antimicrobial resistance.
Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of microorganisms to defeat antimicrobials – i.e. antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics. Antimicrobial overuse and misuse in human and animal health, as well as in agriculture, contribute to this growing problem. The WAAW campaign aims to increase awareness of antimicrobial resistance and to encourage best practices in order to avoid the further emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant infections.
The slogan for WAAW 2020 is “Antimicrobials: handle with care“, which is applicable to all sectors (i.e. humans, animals, agriculture and the environment). Furthermore, this year’s WAAW theme for the human health sector is “United to preserve antimicrobials“. This highlights that each of us, regardless of who we are, have a role in tackling antimicrobial resistance. For healthcare professionals, this includes adhering to prescribing guidelines, confirming the type of microorganism before initiating treatment and regularly reviewing the need for continuing antimicrobials.
Additionally, there is also a lot we can do as patients and the members of the general public. Key things to remember are:
- Only use antimicrobial medicines when prescribed by a certified health professional
- Always take the full prescription, even if you feel better
- Always follow the prescriber’s directions for taking antimicrobial medicines
- Never use leftover antimicrobial medicines
- Never share antimicrobial medicines with others
- Dispose of unused antimicrobials by returning them to the pharmacy that dispensed them
- Prevent infections by regularly washing your hands, avoiding contact with sick people and keeping your vaccinations up to date
Therefore, we would like to encourage everyone to join the SHIP team in celebrating WAAW 2020 by becoming Antibiotic Guardians. You can do this by making a personalised pledge of what you will do to preserve antibiotics for the future using this simple online tool: https://antibioticguardian.com/
“WE have pledged to be #AntibioticGuardians to #KeepAntibiotcsWorking. Our actions protect #antibiotics. Join us at www.antibioticguardian.com“