24 November 2020

As World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) draws to a close, it is important to reflect on why being united to preserve antimicrobials is so important. The importance of speaking out about global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is imperative in order to encourage best practices to stop the further emergence and spread of drug-resistance infections.

What is antimicrobial resistance? 
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) develop resistance to antibiotics meaning medicines that were designed to treat these microbes become less effective which makes them much harder to treat. 

What has caused antimicrobial resistance?
Many factors have accelerated AMR like overuse and misuse. The low awareness of AMR has led to antibiotics being wrongly used to treat superbugs. According to a survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), two thirds of people wrongly believe antibiotics could treat cold and flu caused by viruses. 

What does a post-antibiotic era look like?
According to Medical Research Council (MRC), one of the most serious threats to human health in 21st century is AMR. They describe how in a post-antibiotic era most medical practices will be less safe due to no effective antibiotics. This includes medical practices like routine surgery, emergency operations, transplants and chemotherapy. A 2014 review estimated that by 2050 the global cost of AMR will be roughly $100 trillion and could result in an extra 10 million deaths a year. 

What can we do?
It is vital that we continue to spread awareness in order to decrease the overuse and misuse of antibiotics which help to make sure antibiotics are only used when necessary and appropriate. This will also help all the researchers who are working hard to find new treatments to these microbes that are building resistance to previous treatments. 

Further readings:
https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-antimicrobial-awareness-week/2020
https://mrc.ukri.org/research/spotlights/antimicrobial-resistance/what-is-amr/