World Antimicrobial Awareness Week
18 Nov 2021
Today marks the beginning of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, which runs from November 18-24, 2021. This annual campaign aims to bring increased visibility to global antimicrobial resistance and stewardship, and encourages best practices among the general public, health professionals, and policy makers to avoid the further development and spread of drug-resistant infections. This week promotes informed, careful use of these life-saving antimicrobials to help keep them working for future generations.
Antimicrobials are substances such as antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral medicines used to prevent and treat infections from a spectrum of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a significant global public health threat. When microorganisms change over time and no longer respond to preventative measures and medical treatment, infections become harder to treat and the risk of disease spread, severe illness, and death increases.
The misuse of antimicrobials, typically antibiotics, is a key contributing factor to AMR. This means the likelihood of drug-resistant microorganisms, commonly known as “superbugs” increases, as does the cost to the health care system as patients may need prolonged and increased care for illnesses that are resistant to antimicrobials. As antimicrobial use continues, resistance levels continue to increase (currently about 26%). According to an expert panel, it is estimated that by 2050 AMR rates could rise to 40%, resulting in a loss of 396,000 of Canadian lives.
Antimicrobial stewardship promotes the thoughtful and careful use of antimicrobials to limit and prevent the development of antimicrobial resistant microorganisms. At Public Health Ontario (PHO), we work towards advancing antimicrobial stewardship across the province by providing scientific and technical guidance, resources, and expertise to support stakeholders in implementing sustainable antimicrobial stewardship across all health care sectors.
PHO promotes and supports antimicrobial stewardship as an effective strategy for limiting inappropriate and excessive antimicrobial use, while improving and optimizing antimicrobial therapy and clinical outcomes for patients. Antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASP) support coordinated interventions designed to improve and measure the appropriate use of antimicrobials.
For the first year, campaign organizers are asking individuals and organizations to show their support and “go blue”. Light blue signifies the global impact to the people, organizations, and communities who are both affected by AMR, and whose actions have the power to address this threat.
Supporters can wear light blue during this week, adjust their social media profile photos, and promote antimicrobial awareness. The CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario will be lit up light blue after sunset on November 24 to commemorate this important week. Check it out in person or via webcam.