Use antibiotics effectively to reduce drug-resistance

NPA urges members to be Antibiotic Guardians as awareness weeks gets underway

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has dedicated World Antibiotic Awareness Week (13-17 November 2017) to "Handle Antibiotics With Care".

Doctors increasingly rely on last resort antibiotics such as carbapenems and colistin, but as harmful bacteria continue to mutate, this final line of resistance will eventually fail.

Professor Alison Holmes, Director of the NIHR HRPU in Healthcare Associated Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance, said: "Antibiotic resistance is a serious global threat and we are already seeing its impact first hand in the NHS".

The problem with the casual use of antibiotics is they lose their effect over time as the bacteria they are meant to counter simply adapt to overcome the medicine's effect.

According to the CDC, 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics every year and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Consumers are also driving the demand for meat raised without routine use of antibiotics, with some major food chains adopting "antibiotic-free" policies for their meat supplies.

"Antibiotic resistance is a global crisis that we can not ignore", said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

"Collaboration to promote effective and safe antibiotic use is essential to our patients and the public", said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton.

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This stewardship helps to fight resistance because it preserves the usefulness of antibiotics.

WATCH: Find out more about the campaignWill you be an Antibiotic Guardian? They should only be used for bacterial infections that the body's own immune response can not fight, and only when a doctor prescribes them.

"We must engage the communities and make sure everyone knows how to use antibiotics responsibly".

"As the Medicare-funded Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization for Virginia, we are assisting clinicians across the state as they implement antibiotic stewardship programs in their facilities", added Donald A. Glozer, MHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Health Quality Innovators.

The National Steering Committee for Antibiotic Resistance, the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are again joining forces to raise awareness about antibiotic resistance and responsible use of antibiotics. Up to 50 percent of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not optimally effective as prescribed.

Coates said very few companies are developing new antibiotics to combat AMR, citing financial and technical limitations.

You can read about the Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan at New Zealand Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan.