World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid further spread of drug-resistant infections. Find out more about AMR on the WHO website. You can also see our article from last year’s WAAW, explaining the ‘dos and don’ts’ of antibiotic use. Read the article on our website.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous additional challenges for managing infections. Now more than ever we need to continue to work together to prevent serious infections – including COVID-19 – whilst reducing inappropriate antibiotic use
What is antimicrobial resistance?
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making common infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
Many factors have accelerated the threat of AMR worldwide – including overuse and misuse of medicines in humans, livestock and agriculture, as well as poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.
What can we do to help? Top tips for preventing the spread of antibiotic resistance:
- Wash your hands properly using soap regularly. Antibacterial soap is probably no better than general purpose soaps, so don’t let the lack of one put you off!
- Cover your mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing and dispose of the tissue immediately. If you don’t have time, cough into the crook of your elbow. Don’t cough into your hand or keep a hanky in your pocket!
- Don’t ask your doctor for antibiotics if you have a cold or the flu, or any other viral or fungal infections. Trust them if they say antibiotics will not work for your illness.
- Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
- Keep taking your prescribed antibiotics for as long as they are prescribed for, even if your symptoms clear up sooner.
- Never borrow antibiotics or give them away to someone else, even if their symptoms are the same as yours.
- Dispose of any old antibiotics properly (e.g. at a pharmacy).