World Antibiotic Awareness Week

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US Antibiotic Awareness Week, directed by the CDC, is an annual observance to raise the awareness of antibiotic resistance risks and the importance for all sectors - human and animal health and the environment - to responsibly use antibiotics.

Dr Sally Roberts, clinical lead for the Commission's infection prevention and control programme, says the time taken to develop new antibiotics, combined with a lack of incentive for pharmaceutical companies to produce them, means antibiotic resistance - when bacteria are exposed to an antibiotic and change to resist its effects - is an increasing threat.

"Overuse and misuse of antibiotics are the leading causes of antimicrobial resistance", Suzanne Hill, Director of the Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products at WHO, said in a statement. The CDC's educational effort theme - Be Antibiotics Aware: Smart Use, Best Care - is highlighted during the week's activities, but is a year-round effort (see #USAAW18 and #BeAntibioticsAware).

World Health Organization in the African Region, has made the fight against antibiotic resistance a top priority and is working with countries to develop and implement action plans to combat antibiotic resistance and generate reliable data for action. Therefore, when microbes develop drug resistance in animals, they can easily go on to affect humans, making it hard to treat diseases and infections.

"When antibiotics are obtained and used inappropriately, selective pressure is brought to bear, favouring the emergence of resistance strains".

"Like humans, animals sometimes need antibiotics to fight off bacterial infections".

Never pressure your healthcare provider for an antibiotic prescription.

The main message of the awareness week this year is "handle antibiotics with care", focusing on action plans to prevent infections in livestock, aquaculture and crop production while promoting good farming and food safety.

Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives by fighting effectively against diseases of bacterial, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and meningitis.

"We started seeing more and more cases where the bacteria were resistant to the antibiotics that we have available", Smith noted. I urge everyone to think twice and seek advice from a qualified health professional before taking antibiotics. Along with terrorism and climate change, it remains one of the three major risk factors for human beings in the twenty-first century.

"Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria (not in humans or animals) become resistant to the active ingredients in these medicines". Consumption of antibiotics in this category ranged from less than 20 per cent of total antibiotic consumption in some countries to more than 50 per cent in others.

The repercussions of antibiotic resistance can be devastating.

'By working with partners throughout New Zealand and around the world, we're making sure New Zealand is well placed to address antibiotic resistance, ' says Dr McElnay. He is a Master of Public Health student at Johns Hopkins University and an intern with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group's Antibiotics Program.

"Governments, funding agencies and the private sector need to invest and work together to secure safe, effective medicines for generations to come".