World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers, and policymakers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites resist the effects of medications, making common infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, and death. Antimicrobials are used to fight diseases in humans, animals, and plants and include antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic medicines
A global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines was endorsed at the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly in May 2015. One of the key objectives of the plan is to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education, and training.
What is antimicrobial resistance?
AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making common infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, and death.
Many factors have accelerated the threat of AMR worldwide—including overuse and misuse of medicines in humans, livestock, and agriculture, as well as poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Why is AMR increasing?
- Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and plants – Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and plants are the main drivers in the development of drug-resistant infections. Poor medical prescribing practices and patient adherence to treatment also contribute. For example, antibiotics kill bacteria, but they cannot kill viral infections like colds and flu. Often they are incorrectly prescribed for those illnesses or taken without proper medical oversight. Antibiotics are also commonly overused in farm animals and agriculture.
- Lack of access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) for both humans and animals – Lack of clean water and sanitation in health care facilities, farms, and community settings and inadequate infection prevention and control promotes the emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.
- COVID-19 – The misuse of antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to accelerated emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not by bacteria, and therefore antibiotics should not be used to prevent or treat viral infections unless bacterial infections are also present.
Leading a global response
The Tripartite Organizations are launching a One Health Global Leaders Group on AMR to address the urgent challenge posed by antimicrobial resistance.
The new Global Leaders Group will advance the AMR global action plan launched in 2015—to ensure that, in generations to come, we can continue to prevent and treat infectious diseases with safe and effective medicines.
Content Courtesy : official website of WHO