WHO Antibiotics Awareness Week 2017 focuses on resistance and misuse

13/11/2017

This year’s WHO Antibiotics Awareness Week (13-17 November) is calling for us all to seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics. While this may seem like obvious advice, there are several urgent reasons why the WHO has identified this as its clarion call for the 2017 campaign, the key tenets of which are:

  • To make antibiotic resistance a globally recognized health issue.
  • To raise awareness of the need to preserve the power of antibiotics through appropriate use.
  • To increase the recognition that individuals, health and agriculture professionals, and governments must all play a role in tackling antibiotic resistance.
  • To encourage behaviour change and convey the message that simple actions can make a difference.

WHO World Antibiotics Awareness Week 2017
 

The WHO says that antiobtics are a precious resource in the fight against bacterial diseases and should not be squandered for the wrong reasons. The misuse of antibiotics is seen as a prime reason for the alarming rise in antibiotic resistance. In some regions of the world, for instance, there are no standard guidelines on the use and prescription of antibiotics. Antibiotics may be available as over-the-counter (OTT) drugs and as such would not require a qualified medical practitioner’s prescription to obtain. Individuals may often press their medical practitioners to prescribe antibiotics and may also store and then self prescribe them for illnesses that do not need or may not respond to a course of antibiotics. For their part, health practitioners may be over hasty in prescribing antibiotics when other courses of treatment could have been tried first.

It is these kinds of practice that the WHO awareness campaign aims to shed light on, and to counter with informed advice and education.

The Conseqeuences of Antibiotic Resistance

With bacteria not only developing new resistence mechanisms but being more easily transmitted, with speed, throughout the world, it is likely that our ability to treat common infections will diminish. With this transmutation of bacteria, we may find that infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and blood poisoning will be far harder, and sometimes also impossible to treat as antibiotics become less effective. The WHO predicts that we are heading for a “post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill”.

While new antibiotics are in preparation, they are not expected to be as effective. Furthermore, if antibiotics fail as a first line of attack against infectious disease, more costly, less widely available and usually lengthier courses of treatment are required.

Our Joint Responsibility in Antibiotics’ Best Practice

Medilink serves clients who operate in some of the most remote and disease-prone regions of the world. We offer a range of immunisation and occupational health services aimed at preparing our clients’ staff for deployment and also monitoring their health at regular intervals in the field. We operate along the lines of the precautionary principle, ensuring the optimal health and safety of our clients in the face of the known, and likely health risks they face.

Medilink remote medical staff are trained to deliver appropriate and timely responses based on rigorous clinical assessment backed by latest research. They also have specific insights into diseases prevalent in the regions in which they operate. Our guidelines for the use of antibiotics are strictly in line with WHO recommendations to prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance by detailing best practice for health professionals. The WHO recommends health professionals:

  • Prevent infections by ensuring hands, instruments, and environment are clean;
  • Only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are needed, according to current guidelines;
  • Report antibiotic-resistant infections to surveillance teams;
  • Talk to patients about how to take antibiotics correctly, antibiotic resistance and the dangers of misuse; and
  • Talk to patients about preventing infections.

Further Information on Health Awareness

Medilink offers a weekly international Medical Health Alert service covering disease outbreaks and prevalence across the globe. To receive this advisory, just sign up below.

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