Each year in November there are initiatives taken around the world to raise awareness about antibiotic resistance.
“Be careful! Antibiotics can make you more prone to infection”
AIM: World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) aims 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.
The World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) is observed every November to promote global education on antibiotics, how they should be used, and the growing risks of antibiotic resistance. It is commemorated by governments, health facilities, schools and communities across the globe. This year it is being observed from November 18 to 24 and aims to highlight the best practices among the general public, health workers and policymakers to help stop the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics are commonly used to treat bacterial infections, but public awareness and understanding of antibiotic resistance are low, as per the World Health Organization (WHO). Consuming antibiotics when one doesn’t need them speeds up the process of antibiotic resistance. Infections resistant to antibiotics are more complicated and almost impossible to be treated.
What is Antibiotics?
A medicine (such as penicillin or its derivatives) that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms
How does Antibiotics Work?
Antibiotics work by entering and attaching to the bacterial cell, reducing the bacteria as ability to survive and multiply. If successful, the bacteria will stop growing and die. Antibiotics begin to work as soon as you start taking them however it may take a few days before you start to feel better.
What is Antibiotic Resistance?
“Antibiotic resistance” specifically refers to bacteria and does not include other types of germs. Bacteria cause most resistant infections, so the term, “antibiotic resistance” tends to be more common.
Antibiotic resistance has become a major threat to our society. Resistance continues to grow because of improper antibacterial dosage and use. Antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs used in human medicine and can be lifesaving drugs. But doctors prescribe antibiotics sub-optimally up to half the time, either when not needed or with incorrect dosing or duration.
Why Antibiotic Resistance Is A Matter Of Concern
With the growing use of antibiotics, antibiotic resistance has spread all across the globe making certain diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis difficult to treat. Doctors have to prescribe stronger drugs for a longer period due to the antimicrobial resistance. This affects the health of the patients and it becomes much difficult to manage the risk of infection in patients suffering from chronic diseases.
Why Antibiotics Resistance Is Increasing?
Consuming antibiotics when one doesn’t need them speeds up the process of antibiotic resistance. Infections resistant to antibiotics are more complicated and almost impossible to be treated. A large number of infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and gonorrhoea are becoming very difficult to treat since the antibiotics used for their treatment are becoming less effective.
- Misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans, animals and plants – Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant infections. Poor medical prescribing practices and patient adherence to treatment also contribute. For example, antibiotics kill bacteria, but they cannot kill viral infections like colds and flu. Often they are incorrectly prescribed for those illnesses, or taken without proper medical oversight. Antibiotics are also commonly overused in farm animals and agriculture.
- Lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for both humans and animals – Lack of clean water and sanitation in health care facilities, farms and community settings and inadequate infection prevention and control promotes the emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.
- COVID-19 – The misuse of antibiotics during COVID-19 pandemic could lead to accelerated emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not by a bacteria and therefore antibiotics should not be used to prevent or treat viral infections, unless bacterial infections are also present.
What Can We Do To Combat Antibiotic Resistance?
For this, some practices can be followed, such as not missing the antibiotic dose; if it has been prescribed for three days, it must be taken for as many days even if the symptoms are relieved. Leaving the course mid-way may lead to the onset of infection again. Another thing is to stop taking antibiotics without prescription so that doctors can assess the condition and prescribe an optimal dosage.
5 Things You Can Do To Prevent or Reduce The Spread Of Antibiotic Resistance:
While the government is implementing its policies, below are a few measures that can be adopted at an individual level to fight Antibiotics Resistance:
- Avoid antibiotics when not required – always ask your doctor if antibiotics will really help. For illnesses such as bronchitis, common cold, sinus infections and other infections caused by viruses, antibiotics won’t work.
- Always finish the entire course of prescribed antibiotics even if you start feeling better. Stopping the course before the infection is completely wiped out encourages the bacteria to become drug-resistant.
- Get vaccinated – immunisations can guard you against some diseases caused by bacteria. Getting vaccination against such diseases means less or no use of antibiotics.
- Take care of hygiene – ensure that you wash your hands before and after every meal so as to avoid the occurrence of infections.
- Since antibiotic-resistant bacteria are commonly found in hospitals, caregivers must learn to take care of their hygiene.
The Global Action Plan has Five Strategic Objectives:
- To improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance
- To strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research
- To reduce the incidence of infection
- To optimize the use of antimicrobial agents
- And to develop the economic case for sustainable investment that takes account of the needs of all countries, and to increase investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions.
Although raising individuals’ awareness of antibiotics and resistance is important, the campaign recognizes that real and actionable change happens when communities everywhere become engaged.
Warning: By 2050 one person could die every 3 seconds, if AMR is not tackled now.
“Stop Destroying your Body in order to Save it”