The 2011 theme for World Health Day is “Antimicrobial resistance: No action today, no cure tomorrow” — the World Health Organization is warning that increasing resistance to antibiotics and the growth of “superbug” infections are threatening public health. Here are the WHO’s ten key facts about antimicrobial resistance.
- Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of a microorganism like bacteria to stop an antimicrobial like penicillin from working against it.
- Over time, antimicrobial overuse has led to a situation where drug resistance is a global problem, because resistant microorganisms could spread around the world.
- Antimicrobial resistance is a result of evolution. When a microorganism is exposed to an antimicrobial, the ones that are most affected by it are killed and the most resistant ones remain. Those resistant microorganisms pass that quality on when they reproduce.
- Overuse, underuse and misuse of antimicrobial medicines like antibiotics contribute to antimicrobial resistance.
- Medicines that are of poor quality may not have the right concentrations of antimicrobials to be affective. In some parts of the world, lack of availability means that patients don’t take antimicrobial medications long enough for them to work properly, or even at all.
- The sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock also contributes to antimicrobial resistance.
- Many people become victim to a “superbug” while in a hospital, so good sanitation procedures and infection prevention measures are key to stopping antimicrobial resistance.
- There’s a lack of networks designed to collect and report data on drug resistance, lowering awareness and knowledge when they spread.
- Existing antimicrobials are losing their effectiveness, and the development of new antimicrobial medications has slowed.
- The World Health Organization calls for urgent, worldwide action to halt drug resistance.
Find out what you can do at home to fight antimicrobial resistance.