This week, from 18-24 November the World Health Organisation is urging us all to join the fight against antibiotic resistance, one of the greatest threats to human health today.
Antibiotic resistance is a global problem, and it is ongoing. The fear is that if we don’t act now, we could return to the way things were in the pre-antibiotic era, where common and life-threatening bacterial infections like tuberculosis can no longer be treated.
While the development of antibiotics was one of the most important advances of medicine, treating many previously fatal bacterial infections and saving millions of lives. However, because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, bacterial infections that were once easily cured with antibiotics are becoming harder to treat because of antibiotic resistance.
We all have a responsibility to fight antibiotic resistance, so here we share the top 5 ways you can do your part to safeguard global health:
- Understand that most people don’t need antibiotics for colds and flu because they are caused by viruses. Many people are under the misapprehension that antibiotics can cure a cold or the flu, however most respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses, and antibiotics have not affect on viruses.
- Tell your doctor you only want an antibiotic if it is really necessary. The more antibiotics used the more chances bacteria have to become resistant to them. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily will mean that they wont work for you when you do need them in future.
- Take the right dose of your antibiotic at the right time, as prescribed by your doctor. Failure to do so will allow time for the bacteria in your system to become resistant. Bacteria are known to mutate or change their genes after being in contact with an antibiotic. These changes allow them to survive or resist the antibiotic.
- Take your antibiotics for as long as your doctor tells you to. Many people will stop taking their course of antibiotics once they start to feel better, but it is very important to finish the course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist otherwise you run the risk of developing resistant-bacteria that will mean you will have the infection for longer. You may be more likely to have complications of the infection or you could remain infectious for longer, and pass your infection to other people, which increases the problem.
- Take simple steps to avoid infections and prevent them from spreading to others, especially those more vulnerable to infection. Resistant strains of bacteria can spread from person to person. This means that even those who do the right thing when it comes to taking their medication are at risk. Stay home when you are unwell to minimise the risk to others and so that you can get well quicker. Also remember to wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing, and throw tissues into the bin once you have used them. Avoid sharing cups or cutlery with others and keep household surfaces clean.
For more information see : www.who.int