Issue No. 14: The Time to Spread Awareness and Stop Resistance Is Now

Earlier this month, a senior official at the World Health Organization, Hanan Balkhy, raised a red warning flag to the international community: “We are actually in a critical time where we are facing true inertia in the response to a very important health hazard, which is antimicrobial resistance.” 

She spoke at the World Antimicrobial Resistance Congress, the globe’s largest gathering of stakeholders in the fight against this emerging threat to public health.

“It’s a problem that faces our doctors and primary care givers when they decide to treat us for an infection. … They then realize that they don’t have an effective antibiotic at hand. Why? Because the bacteria that are causing our infection won’t respond to the medication. This is why antimicrobial resistance is important to all of us and our loved ones as a potential patient.”

Her words powerfully framed the urgent need to address AMR just in time for World Antimicrobial Awareness Week and U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, which runs from November 18 through 24. The annual weeklong event seeks to heighten international awareness of AMR and inspire action among all stakeholders — from governments and policymakers to healthcare workers and everyday citizens.

The theme of this year’s WAAW is “spread awareness, stop resistance.” This is a crucial message for all of us — because, as Dr. Balkhy noted, everyone has a potentially life-or-death personal stake in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

What Can Stakeholders Do to Spread Awareness and Stop Resistance?

The world is a long way from addressing AMR. Every use of antimicrobials to treat or prevent infectious diseases gives the pathogens that cause them — bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites — an opportunity to build resistance to the antibiotics, antifungals, and other therapeutics available today. The fact that AMR can emerge anywhere means we must all enlist in the effort to combat it.

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