Since they came on the scene in the 20th century, antibiotics have enabled many serious diseases to be controlled, but their over-use and misuse on a huge scale has led to antibiotic resistance, also known as antimicrobial resistance. The problem is not going away and the first global campaign for the better use of antibiotics will be launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in World Antibiotic Awareness Week (Nov. 16 to 22). The campaign hopes to educate and decrease antibiotic usage.
The growing numbers of multidrug-resistant bacteria and the increase in hospital-acquired infections are the first sign of this resistance and the reality is that they are a real public health problem which WHO is constantly fighting against.
Antibiotic resistance also compromises prevention and the effectiveness of treatments. Many commonly-used medicines are becoming ineffective in treating conditions such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV and urinary infections.
The WHO says that we all have a part to play in combatting antibiotic resistance by taking these essential preventative steps. Here are the ideas that WHO recommends:
- Only take antibiotics prescribed for you by your doctor for an infection.
- Complete the prescribed course of treatment, even when you’re feeling better.
- Never use antibiotics left over from a previous illness.
- Do not share antibiotics with family or friends, even if they have the same illness as you.
- Prevent infections by regularly washing your hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, and getting recommended vaccines.