World Antimicrobial Awareness Week; Antibiotic resistance is both medical and financial burden

By Duncan Mlanjira

In celebrating World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) (November 18-24), which World Health Organisation (WHO) set aside to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance Malawian, Dr. Parth Patel, says antibiotic resistance jeopardizes advancements in modern health care that the medical profession have come to rely on — such as joint replacements, organ transplants, and cancer therapy.

As such Dr. Patel says in an exclusive interview that these medical  procedures have a significant risk of infection as patients won’t be able to receive them if effective antibiotics are not available.

Dr. Parth Patel

Thus, he said, antibiotic resistance is both a medical and a financial burden because aside from healthcare, antibiotic resistance also impacts veterinary and agriculture industries.

“There are no global data for the cost of resistance and many countries do not have an estimated cost for their own population, but some good evidence is available for parts of Europe and from the United States — an estimated cost to health care systems of €1.5 billion per year in European countries and over US$20 billion each year in the USA.

“When the antibiotic of choice (first-line treatment) fails, other more expensive antibiotics need to be used (second-line treatment). The difference in cost between first and second-line drugs is up to a 60-fold increase for antibiotics.”

In celebrating the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, Maravi Express will be serialising the exclusive interview we had with Dr. Patel:

What is the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week?

“World Antimicrobial Awareness Week aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

“It is a global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines was endorsed at the 68th  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.”


Why is WHO putting so much effort into combating antibiotic resistance?

“Antibiotic resistance is not a new problems and in essence a natural phenomenon.

“It is, however, becoming more dangerous, as more bacteria develop or acquire resistance to the medicines used to treat them at an increasing and alarming speed.

“The invention of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs has changed the course of human history, but their effectiveness is under threat.

“In the absence of urgent corrective and protective actions, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and will, once again, claim lives.

“Therefore, WHO calls for urgent and concerted action by governments, health professionals, industry, civil society and patients to slow down the emergence and spread of drug resistance, limit its impact today and preserve medical advances for future generations.

What is WHO doing for Antimicrobial Resistance?

“The emergence of antimicrobial resistance is a growing concern, as expressed in several resolutions approved by Member States and leading to several WHO initiatives.

“In September 2001, WHO launched the Global Strategy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance, which includes a large number of interventions to slow the emergence and reduce the spread of resistance in a diverse range of settings.

“Since then, further progress has been made through campaigns, expert consultations, risk assessments, guidance documents and capacity-building efforts by the various WHO programmes dealing with antimicrobial resistance.

“WHO continues to advocate to government the need to control and monitor antibiotic use, implement surveillance for antibiotic resistance, ensure strict compliance with infection prevention and control strategies and enact or enforce legislation to assure the continued efficacy of antibiotic drugs.

“Through World Health Day 2011 on antimicrobial resistance, WHO brought widespread attention to this multifaceted issue. It is now working to bring together all these activities into one comprehensive approach, to equip Member States with the guidance and tools to combat antimicrobial resistance effectively at all levels of engagement.”

“WAAW is a global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines that was endorsed at the 68th 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.

The theme for 2020 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week is ‘Antimicrobials: handle with care

To be continued…

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