In recent years, most experts have started taking a keen interest in the subject matter of antimicrobial resistance due to the increased use of medicinal drugs like antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, and antiparasitic. These medicinal drugs are used to boost the health of plants and animals. They are also used to enhance the health of the environment.
Some bacteria and other microbes start developing resistance to certain medicinal drugs. Such microbes develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It primarily happens due to the irresponsible use of medicinal drugs.
While AMR is a major challenge these days, a holistic approach is necessary to deal with it. Otherwise, a stage would come in the next few decades down the line in which the majority of current medical drugs would be ineffective. This will lead to an alarming rise in the rate of deaths due to infections. To make people aware of the possible dangers of AMR due to the wrong or overuse of antibiotics and other medicines, volunteers run a campaign, namely antimicrobial resistance week.
What is World Antimicrobial Awareness Week and Why Is It Important?
Microbes and parasites can spread from one living organism to the other. Self-medication and improper use of medicines make them resistant to the medicinal properties of some medicinal drugs. The resistance of microbes and parasites to medicinal drugs is called antimicrobial resistance.
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is an UN-approved annual event that is centred on sharing information about AMR and its detrimental effects on society. Participants take part in it with the pledge to make as many people aware of AMR as they can. Each year WAAW is celebrated between the 18th and the 24th day of November. Anyone can make his/her contribution to this event in his/her way.
Ways to Make Your Contribution to World Antimicrobial Awareness Week
If you are concerned with the welfare of society and want to make a positive contribution to it to transform the lives of people by taking part in World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, you can do it in the following ways:
- Wear a blue dress to celebrate awareness week as blue is the chosen colour of the event.
- Invite your friends and acquaintances. Share your AMR-related experiences, if any, with them, and also encourage them to do the same.
- Work with the associations of local schools to have a discussion or assembly on AMR for the benefit of children.
- If you are a job holder or own a business organization, hold a session or AMR or spread awareness regarding it among staff members.
- Share posts related to AMR on social media. Also, create or forward messages on it on WhatsApp among your contacts.
Key Facts Related to AMR
- In 2019, around 1.3 million people lost their lives worldwide due to bacterial AMR.
- The improper disposal of drugs from waste dumps, bins, and toilets deepens the possibility of AMR
- Once a medicinal drug becomes ineffective due to AMR, it takes another 10 to 15 years to develop a more effective medicinal drug than it.
- AMR not only puts pressure on the health system of a nation but also negatively influences its economy.
- One of the best ways to prevent antimicrobial resistance is to wash hands before cooking.
- Keeping domestic and pet animals healthy can help reduce the dependence on medicinal drugs to keep them healthy. It helps minimize the possibility of AMR.
How to Prevent AMR?
Antibiotics are primarily designed to kill bacteria. Likewise, antifungals, antivirals, and antiparasitic help in killing fungi, viruses, and parasites. But they are effective only when an individual uses them in an intended way. Not doing so makes some bacteria, microbes, and parasites resistant to medicinal drugs. When they multiply and spread around they lead to antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Prevention is one of the best ways to protect against antimicrobial resistance. Along with it, there are also some effective ways to prevent AMR. These include the following:
- Heightening awareness through a public awareness campaign: The total eradication of AMR may not be a realistic goal. However, it is possible to minimize it to a large extent. A heightened public awareness regarding the issue can make it possible. Educating society about the possible dangers of the misuse or overuse of antimicrobials can help prevent the chances of AMR by 36%.
- Checking the spread of infection by enhancing sanitation facilities: Improved sanitation and standards of living can reduce the dependence on antibiotics, thereby eliminating the possibility of the development of new strains. It is all the more important for countries with a lower income. Proper sanitation facilities can help reduce the dependence on medicines for the treatment of diarrhoea by 60%.
- Minimizing the dissemination into the environment and preventing their unnecessary use in agriculture: Agriculture involves the use of important antibiotics. On average, farmers use about 70% of antibiotics in the production of crops. Also, antibiotics are used for protecting cattle from infection. About 75%-90% of antibiotics given to cattle leak into the environment through excreta. The use of antibiotics in agriculture and for the cattle population should be kept to a minimum.
- Improving the microbial consumption and surveillance of drugs worldwide: For scientists and physicians worldwide, it is essential to keep an eye on the AMR data. Three aspects they need to consider are the research-oriented information about molecular foundations concerning AMR, the data related to the usage of antibiotics by humans and animals, and the resistance rates for the drugs that are readily available.
- Encouraging the quick development of rapid diagnostics: Oftentimes, doctors end up giving antibiotics, antimicrobials, and antivirals to patients who do not need them. They do the same for antiparasitic as well. This can be avoided by improving diagnostics. Given its likelihood of leading to a rise in the rate of AMR, it is imperative to enhance the quality as well as the precision of diagnostics reports. This positive change will help doctors identify the patients who actually need antibiotics, antimicrobials, antivirals, and antiparasitic and prescribe them accordingly.
- Creating a global innovation fund for the discovery of new treatments: Early-stage research holds the key to the development of new medicine. This is precisely where investments from public and private sources can play an important role. Creating a global innovation fund will make funds available for researchers. Due to the availability of funds, researchers get more encouragement to carry out their extensive research to begin the discovery of drugs and take it to the final stage.
- Collaborating for a worldwide coalition and real action: A combined effort is essential to deal with a global menace such as AMR. It can be possible only if a meaningful discussion concerning AMR gets traction in major global platforms such as the United Nations (UN) or the G20.
According to the data of the World Health Organization (WHO), AMR poses a significant challenge to public health across the globe. Raising public awareness and taking the above steps can go a long way toward helping the world meet and beat the challenge of AMR. Keeping in mind the growing risks of AMR, events like World Antimicrobial Awareness Week are likely to gain more traction in the next few years down the line.