World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) 2020 kicked off on November 18 and runs through November 24 under the theme: ‘United to preserve antimicrobials’.
The one-week period is being observed all around the world and by Collective Prevention Services (CPS) with the intent to increase awareness so all persons can be attentive on the use of antibiotics, and to encourage best practices among the public, and health workers.
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi.
PAHO: “Antimicrobial resistance happens 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 is a global concern because new resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.
Medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.
Without effective antibiotics, the success of major surgery and cancer chemotherapy would be compromised.
The World Health Organization (WHO) gave several reasons why AMR is increasing. Firstly, the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials 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.
Secondly, the 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.
Thirdly, 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.