The World Health Organisation (WHO) is celebrating the World Antibiotics Awareness Week from 13 to 19 November, in its regional office in Cairo, with the theme of this year’s campaign, “seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics”.
The aim of the campaign is to advocate for the proper and responsible use of antibiotics, to prevent their misuse.
In a statement on its website, the WHO said that “it is important to seek the correct medical advice before taking antibiotics, not only to ensure that you receive the appropriate treatment, but because responsible use of antibiotics will also help reduce the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.”
Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarial) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist, and may spread to others, according to the statement.
The use and misuse of antibiotics has increased the number and types of resistant organisms, threatening that many infectious diseases may one day become untreatable. According to the WHO, every year, around 750,000 people die as a result of infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics in the Eastern Mediterranean region. This number is expected to dramatically increase in the coming years.
For this year’s World Antibiotics Awareness Week, WHO called on everyone ‒ governments, communities, health care professionals, individuals and farmers ‒ to handle antibiotics with care, and for individuals to only take antibiotics if prescribed by a doctor.
Studies indicate that few new antibiotics are being developed to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance, since antimicrobial resistance poses a huge threat to both human and animal health.
Most of the drugs currently being developed are modifications of existing classes of antibiotics, and represent only short-term solutions, according to the WHO.