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Ottawa/Canadian-Media: On the observation of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) from November 18-24, Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada said in view global issue of the increasing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) posing public health threat in Canada and worldwide, requires global consideration and innovation.
Image credit: PAHO
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 agents that are critical tools for fighting diseases in humans, animals and plants and include antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal medicines. Multiple factors – including overuse of medicines in humans, livestock, and agriculture, as well as poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene – have accelerated the threat of antimicrobial resistance worldwide.
WHO said that "following a stakeholder's consultation meeting in May 2020 organized by the Tripartite Organizations (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and WHO) the scope of WAAW was expanded, changing its focus from "antibiotics" to the more encompassing and inclusive term "antimicrobials". Expanding the scope of the campaign to all antimicrobials will facilitate a more inclusive global response to antimicrobial resistance and support a multisectoral One Health Approach with increased stakeholder engagement. The Tripartite Executive Committee has decided to fix WAAW dates to 18-24 November every year starting from 2020.The slogan for 2020 will be "Antimicrobials: handle with care" applicable to all sectors. The theme for the human health sector for WAAW 2020 is “United to preserve antimicrobials".
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.
Tam Theresa said "AWWR provides us with an opportunity to learn about the important actions we can take to maintain the effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs that protect the health of people, animals and their shared environment...The Council of Canadian Academies report on antimicrobial resistance suggests in 2018, 5,400 deaths were directly attributable to antimicrobial resistance, and that more than 20,000 hospital patients acquired infections that are resistant to available antimicrobial drugs."
To tackle this issue, Theresa Tam said , "We all have an important role to play in minimizing the impact of this global public health challenge to limit the development and spread of resistance. Unnecessary antimicrobial use, the failure to complete or follow prescription guidelines, and improper disposal methods threaten the availability of effective antimicrobials to combat infections. Understanding antimicrobial prescription and use in the context of sociocultural drivers is also pivotal to facilitating action, which is further explored in my second public health spotlight report--Handle with Care: Preserving Antibiotics Now and Into the Future.
We must take collective action today, and make wise choices to safeguard our ability to treat infections in the future. By seeking and following appropriate medical advice, avoiding the unnecessary use of antimicrobial drugs, and following guidelines for safe disposal, we can all reduce the impact of antimicrobial resistance and contribute to healthier outcomes for everyone. More information on the safe use of antimicrobial drugs is available at Canada.ca/antibiotics."