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World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2022

Reports from the World Health Organization show that AMR is one of the top ten threats to global health, causing 1.3 million deaths in 2019

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This year’s annual World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), ran from 18 to 24 November and focused on improving awareness of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and encouraging the responsible use of antibiotics by the general public, health workers and policymakers.

As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), AMR is one of the top ten threats to global health, causing 1.3 million deaths in 2019.

AMR develops when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change and adapt to antibiotics over time, making them more resistant to drug treatments. As a result, infections become harder to treat and the risk of severe illness and death increases.

A new global study launched during WAAW, commissioned by the Global Respiratory Infection Partnership and Reckitt, showed a high dependence on antibiotics for treating respiratory conditions like sore throats, which is adding to the global issue of AMR.

The Sore Throat and Antibiotic Resistance (STAR) study found that over 50% of respondents had taken antibiotics for a respiratory condition, such as a sore throat, in the past six months, even though antibiotics are not an effective treatment for 90% of sore throats.

The study also revealed that many people do not know how to treat a sore throat, which means people take antibiotics when they are not needed, resulting in antibiotic overuse. Of those surveyed, 45% of adults aged under 35 years did not know how to treat respiratory conditions without antibiotics.

In an effort to address this, the theme of WAAW this year was ‘Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together’, calling for all sectors to work together to only use antibiotics where necessary to help prevent AMR.

People were encouraged to share their experiences of AMR and ways to prevent it, and to also to ‘go blue for AMR’ and wear blue during WAAW events, a colour campaign that was introduced during last year’s WAAW.

A series of virtual events also took place throughout the week, including WHO’s ‘Back to the future: inspiring the next generation on hand hygiene’ webinar, which highlighted the importance of hand hygiene in reducing infection and AMR in healthcare settings.

Marking the conclusion of the week was the Third Global High-Level Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance, which, for the first time, discussed targets to address the global AMR challenge.

It is hoped that the conference and its targets for antimicrobial use will ‘pave the way’ for political commitments at the forthcoming UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AMR in 2024.

Included in the global targets are plans to preserve critically important antimicrobials for human use, as well as to ensure that ‘access’ group antibiotics – a category of antibiotics that are affordable, safe and have a low AMR risk – represent at least 60% of overall antibiotic consumption by 2030.

Commitments were also made to implement ‘National Action Plans’ for AMR and strengthen surveillance through improved data reporting and management, private sector engagement and implementation of evidence-based practices.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director- general, said: “AMR is one of the most urgent and complex challenges of our time and yet, perhaps because it is not as dramatic as a pandemic, a war or a humanitarian emergency, it doesn’t attract the same attention.

“It is my firm hope that this meeting will pave the way towards bold – and concrete – political commitments at the 2024 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AMR.”

Initiatives to tackle AMR were also discussed in the run-up to the week at an event hosted by the EU Parliament, where members of the European Parliament (MEPs) joined with Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi, the Active Citizenship Network and the MEPs’ Interest Group on ‘European Patients’ Rights and Cross-Border Healthcare’.

In line with the theme for this year’s WAAW, the event reinforced the importance of collaborations between pharmaceutical companies, stakeholders and governments to bring about policy change and innovation to address AMR.

Within the context of the revision of the Pharmaceutical Legislation and the planned European Council Recommendations on AMR taking place in the final quarter of 2022, the event brought together high-level European policymakers to discuss the development of new antibiotics and initiatives by national health authorities to fight AMR.

The event also explored collaborative and governance models to achieve better implementation of actions, as well as improving best practices for a more holistic AMR approach.

European Member of Parliament Aldo Patriciello said: “The meeting was crucial to increase awareness of AMR and the need for new innovations to address unmet needs.” He also called on “patient organisations, industry, the European Commission, academia and healthcare professionals to work together to drive policy change and put in place a common response to this increasing societal challenge”.

Emily Kimber is an assistant journalist at PMGroup Worldwide Ltd

6th January 2023

Emily Kimber is an assistant journalist at PMGroup Worldwide Ltd

6th January 2023

From: Research, Healthcare

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