World Antibiotic Awareness Week: Prescription for action from WHO
Every year, World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) is celebrated by governments, health facilities, schools and communities across the globe. Antibiotic Awareness Week was celebrated on 18 – 24 November 2019 . WAAW aims to increase awareness of global antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.
Objectives of WAAW
- To make antibiotic resistance a globally recognized health issue.
- To raise awareness of the need to preserve the power of antibiotics through appropriate use.
- To increase the recognition that individuals, health and agriculture professionals, and governments must all play a role in tackling antibiotic resistance.
- To encourage behaviour change and convey the message that simple actions can make a difference.
$100 trillion USD of economic output is at risk due to the rise of drug resistant infections.
Prescription for action from WHO
Doctors, nurses, veterinarians and other health workers
- Don’t prescribe or dispense antibiotics unless they are truly necessary and you have made all efforts to test and confirm which antibiotic your human patient or the animal you are treating should have. It is estimated that in half of all cases, antibiotics are prescribed for conditions caused by viruses, where they do no good. You can also do more to prevent infections in the first place by ensuring your hands, instruments and environment are clean, and employing vaccines where appropriate.
People using healthcare
- Take antibiotics only when prescribed by a certified health professional, but also don’t be timid about asking if you feel you really need them. If you take an antibiotic, always complete the full prescription, even if you feel better, because stopping treatment early promotes the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
Farmers and others in the agriculture sector
- Ensure that antibiotics given to animals are used only to control or treat infectious diseases and under veterinary supervision. Misuse of antibiotics in livestock, aquaculture and crops is a key factor contributing to antibiotic resistance and its spread into the environment, food chain and humans. Clean and uncrowded conditions and vaccination of animals can reduce the need to use antibiotics.
- We need robust national action plans to tackle antibiotic resistance. Critical steps are improved surveillance of antibiotic-resistant infections, regulation of the appropriate use of quality medicines, and education about the dangers of overuse.
- Compared with populations in industrialised nations, people in low-income countries are not getting fair access to antibiotics. Countries seeking donor help to strengthen their health systems need guidance to ensure essential antibiotics are affordable, reach the people who really need them, and are used responsibly.
- Industry needs to move faster and more aggressively to research and develop new antibiotics, but we also have to implement new ways of stimulating research and development. Many talk of an antibiotic “discovery void” since the late 1980s. We are currently in a race between drug development and bacterial evolution.