World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April to mark the founding of World Health Organization (WHO). Each year, WHO selects a key global health issue and organises international, regional and local events on the Day and throughout the year to highlight the selected area.
World Health Day 2011 will focus on “antimicrobial resistance” and its global spread. Antimicrobial resistance threatens the continued effectiveness of many medicines used today to treat the sick, while at the same time it risks jeopardising important advances being made against major infectious killers. To underline this, the WHO public awareness campaign will include a special focus on the HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics.
Antimicrobial resistance: no action today, no cure tomorrow
What are Antimicrobial agents?
Antimicrobial agents are medicines used to treat infections caused by micro organisms, including bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. The discovery of antimicrobials is one of the most important advances in health in human history - alleviating suffering from disease and saving billions of lives over the past 70 years. Antimicrobials include antibiotics, chemotherapeutic agents, antifungals, antiparasitic medicines and antivirals.
What is Antimicrobial resistance?
Antimicrobial resistance - also known as drug resistance - occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that render the medications used to cure the infections they cause ineffective.
When the microorganisms become resistant to most antimicrobials they are often referred to as “superbugs”. This is a major concern because a resistant infection may kill, can spread to others, and imposes huge costs to individuals and society.
How is Antimicrobial resistance caused?
Antimicrobial resistance is caused by the inappropriate use of medicines such as taking substandard doses or not finishing a prescribed course of treatment. Low-quality medicines, wrong prescriptions and poor infection prevention also encourage the development and spread of drug resistance.
How to prevent antimicrobial resistance?
- If you are not well and have been prescribed an antibiotic course, complete the entire course. Do not stop taking the antibiotic as soon as you start feeling better.
- You have to take the whole prescription to treat a disease caused by a micro-organism. If you take only a part of the medicine, you'll make them stronger and also develop a resistance towards that drug.
- Don't take an antibiotic or an antibacterial if you have been infected by a virus. Antibiotics and antibaterials have no effect on viruses.
- Practice good infection control at home by keeping your house clean.
- Avoid overuse of antibacterial and antimicrobial scrubs, soaps and detergents. These can contribute to resistant strains of bacteria. Plain hot water and soap are good enough to fight germs.
- Wash your hands before preparing or serving food and after going to the toilet. Nine tenths of infection control is simply washing your hands, especially when you're sick, or in contact with sick people.
- Keep your desk and keyboard clean. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser before and after having food, after going to the toilet and after coming in contact with a sick person.