World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week
Are you taking antibiotics for all infections, irrespective of whether they are viral, bacterial, or fungal? Are you taking antibiotics for every symptom, regardless of whether you have a bacterial infection or not? If so, you might be at risk of developing antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an escalating threat to our ability to combat infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials stand as the primary contributors to the development of AMR. How can we collectively address this critical issue and promote responsible antimicrobial use? Continue reading to gain a better understanding of this global health concern.
Superbugs On The Rise
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when the microorganisms evolve and no longer respond to medicines, making infections more challenging to treat and escalating the risk of severe illness and death. Antimicrobials, crucial for preventing and treating infections in humans, animals, and plants, are now facing resistance, giving rise to the ominous term' superbugs.'
The consequence of this resistance is that antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines lose their efficacy, making infections increasingly formidable or even impossible to manage. Our collective awareness and actions are key to addressing this looming crisis.
The Necessity Of AMR Awareness
In response to the alarming threat of resistance to antimicrobial medicines, a global action plan gained endorsement at the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly in May 2015. A pivotal objective of this plan is to enhance awareness and comprehension of AMR through impactful communication, education, and training.
World AMR Awareness Week (WAAW) is a global initiative celebrated annually from 18 to 24 November, striving to elevate awareness and understanding of AMR. It encourages best practices among the public, health stakeholders, and policymakers, all crucial in mitigating AMR's further emergence and spread.
Dispelling the Myth
Myth: Taking antibiotics for viral infections is effective.
Fact: Antibiotics are designed to combat bacterial infections, not viruses. They won't work against illnesses like the common cold or the flu. When facing a viral foe, it's best to consult your healthcare provider for the appropriate course of action. Let antibiotics do what they do best – tackle bacterial adversaries – and reserve antivirals for viral battles.
Myth: Antibiotics and antimicrobials are interchangeable terms.
Fact: While antibiotics are antimicrobials, the term "antimicrobial" encompasses a broader category, including antivirals and antifungals, designed to combat various microorganisms. Antibiotics specifically target bacteria, killing them (bactericidal) or preventing their multiplication (bacteriostatic). Using these terms interchangeably is inaccurate, as they have distinct meanings and applications.
Silent But Deadly: AMR, An Unseen Threat
In the year 2019, nearly 5 million individuals died due to drug-resistant infections globally. This startling figure underscores the urgent necessity for robust initiatives to counteract antimicrobial resistance (AMR). What concrete steps can be taken to address this pressing global health crisis? The implications are far-reaching, necessitating a thorough examination of healthcare practices, responsible antibiotic usage, and enhanced international collaboration. How can individuals, communities, and governments contribute to preventing the escalation of drug-resistant infections? Grasping the magnitude of this issue is paramount for safeguarding the health and well-being of our global population.
AMR burden in India
- In India, the count of deaths due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surpasses the fatalities caused by conditions such as neoplasms, respiratory infections, tuberculosis, enteric infections, diabetes, kidney diseases, as well as maternal and neonatal disorders.
- In 2019, India witnessed 297,000 deaths due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and 1,042,500 deaths associated with AMR.
Causes and Consequences of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials are primary contributors to developing drug-resistant pathogens.
- Lack of clean water and sanitation facilitates the spread of microbes, some of which may become resistant to antimicrobial treatment.
- Inadequate infection prevention and control measures further promote the emergence and dissemination of antimicrobial resistance.
- The significant economic cost of AMR includes longer hospital stays, the demand for more expensive medicines, and financial challenges for those affected.
- Effective antimicrobials are crucial for the success of modern medicine, particularly in treating infections during major surgeries and cancer chemotherapy. The risk of treatment failure increases without access to reliable antimicrobials.
5 Facts You Must Know About AMR
1. Antimicrobial resistance happens when germs overpower the drugs meant to eliminate them—antibiotics or antifungals. Remember, it does not imply that your body is resistant to these medications.
2. Antimicrobial resistance can impact you at any life stage. Infections from resistant germs can be tough, even impossible, to treat. They often require extended hospital stays and more doctor visits and may involve costly and potentially toxic treatments.
3. Take steps to lower your infection risk. Embrace healthy habits to protect yourself and prevent germ spread. Follow vaccination recommendations, maintain clean hands and wounds, and manage chronic conditions like diabetes.
4. Consult your healthcare provider to determine if antibiotics or antifungals are necessary. These drugs don't work on viruses like colds and the flu. While they save lives, their use can lead to side effects and antimicrobial resistance. If you havve taken these drugs and experienced three or more episodes of diarrhea in 24 hours, inform your doctor.
5. Inform your healthcare provider if you have recently travelled or received care abroad. Antimicrobial resistance is a global issue, spreading easily across borders through trade and travel. It can affect settings like hospitals, farms, communities, and the environment.
Actions To Fight
To tackle the AMR threat effectively, it is crucial for each of us to:
1. Prevent infections initially.
2. Enhance your use of antibiotics and antifungals to curb resistance development and
3. Halt the spread of resistance if it arises.
Everyone, including travellers, animal owners, caregivers, patients, and healthcare providers, plays a crucial role in this collective effort.
9 Proactive Steps For Infection Risk Management
- Keep cuts clean, cover them until healed, and manage chronic conditions.
- Practice good hand hygiene to prevent infections and germ transmission.
- Get recommended vaccines to prevent infections, including resistant ones.
- Use antibiotics and antifungals as directed to avoid side effects and resistance. You can go for natural antibiotics to treat minor infections.
- Be alert to health changes, recognize signs of infection, and seek prompt care.
- Follow healthy habits around animals, cleaning hands after contact to prevent resistance.
- Practice safe food preparation to avoid foodborne infections.
- Stay cautious when travelling, considering vaccinations and health precautions.
- Prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by choosing safer sexual activities, using condoms, and seeking prompt treatment if positive for infections.
Time For Action
In the battle against AMR, urgent global collaboration is vital. AMR's causes, from misuse of antimicrobials to inadequate sanitation, demand immediate attention. The toll, both in lives and the economy, emphasizes the critical need for responsible practices. As we confront nearly 5 million global deaths due to drug-resistant infections, World AMR Awareness Week serves as a stark reminder. The impact is profound from an individual to the community, necessitating a paradigm shift in our approach. Recognizing the indispensability of effective antimicrobials for modern medicine, responsible use is paramount. As we stand at this crossroads, the call for action echoes loudly—understand, raise awareness, and adopt responsible practices to combat the silent but deadly threat of AMR collectively.
"Preserve the power of antibiotics; prevent a world of resistance."