Preventing antimicrobial resistance together: taking action on World AMR Awareness Week 2023
World AMR Awareness Week (November 18 – 24, 2023) is a globally recognized initiative that draws attention to the critical issue of antimicrobial resistance. This year’s theme is “Preventing antimicrobial resistance together.” As we face the ever-growing threat of drug-resistant infections, it’s imperative that we unite to combat this ongoing and devastating crisis.
What is antimicrobial resistance?
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness, and death. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective, and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat.1
Over the years, the misuse of antimicrobials in humans, animals and plants and the lack of appropriate patient adherence, have accelerated the threat of AMR worldwide. Consequently, an increased number of infections have become difficult to manage, with dramatic health and economic impact.1,2
Once resistance emerges, it can spread into new settings and between countries facilitated by further antibiotic misuse, as well as by poor infection control practices.1
Why is it an important topic?
Before the discovery of antibiotics, countless lives were claimed by bacterial diseases. Just a few decades ago, minor accidents, routine surgical procedures, or common occurrences like childbirth, could result in severe and potentially fatal infections simply because antibiotics were not yet discovered and available. Now the past is threatening to repeat itself, all due to antimicrobial resistance.
Resistance to even one antibiotic can have dire consequences.3 Antimicrobial resistance threatens all those advancements in modern healthcare that we rely upon, such as organ transplants, cancer therapy and joint replacements. Patients going through such critical treatments and procedures have a significant risk of infection – if effective antibiotics are no longer available, patients might not be able to receive them.4
Moreover, while bacteria continually adapt and evolve, our arsenal of antibiotics is rapidly depleting, and regrettably, there has been very little investment in discovering new ones. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified 32 antibiotics in clinical development addressing the list of priority pathogens, of which only six were classified as innovative.1
WHO listed antimicrobial resistance as one of the top 10 global threats to humanity1: at least 1.27 million people die each year directly as a result of bacterial AMR5, and the UN estimates that, by 2050, up to 10 million deaths6,7 could be caused by superbugs and associated forms of antimicrobial resistance, leading to 28 million people living in poverty and $100 trillion in additional healthcare costs.8
Who is most vulnerable to AMR?
Antimicrobial resistance can affect any person, at any stage of life.4 However, it’s often the most vulnerable who suffer most at the hands of antimicrobial resistance: young children, cancer patients, and people over the age of 60.9 In addition, people with weakened immune systems and patients who receive specialized care such as organ/bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, complex surgeries or dialysis are at higher risk.9
AMR, therefore, impacts some of the most vulnerable in society; 20% of AMR-associated deaths occur in children under 5.10 144,000+ people receiving organ transplants11, and over 3.5 million newly diagnosed with cancer12 are vulnerable to suffer from antimicrobial resistance.
What can we do to prevent antimicrobial resistance?
Appropriate use of antibiotics can save millions of lives each year and prevent complications of infections. The World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week is a time to come together to acknowledge what has been achieved so far, and what still needs to be done. Fighting AMR is a joint effort involving all of us. Together, we can prevent antimicrobial resistance by:
- Strengthening the antibiotic pipeline: Advocating for the research and development of novel antibiotics, antimicrobial medicines and vaccines is imperative, because resistance invariably emerges over time.1
- Focusing on appropriate use of antibiotics: The correct use of antibiotics is crucial to prevent the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance. This means resorting to antibiotics only when they are needed and prescribed by a doctor, taking them exactly as prescribed, for the whole duration of the treatment.4
- Implementing robust antimicrobial stewardship: Antimicrobial stewardship is a healthcare system-wide approach to promote and monitor judicial use of antimicrobials.13,14 This includes, among other things, ensuring that the right drug, dose and duration are selected when an antibiotic is needed15, as well as improving antibiotic prescribing by clinicians and use by patients so that antibiotics are only used as and when needed.15 To tackle antimicrobial resistance, it’s crucial for all healthcare professionals to take on the role of stewards for these medications, and for the patients to follow their lead.
Menarini Group acts to spread awareness on AMR:
Menarini Group, always committed to ensuring the health of people, is playing its part to fight this “silent pandemic” by bringing clinicians and patients life-saving and effective solutions to prevent and treat drug-resistant infections and promote the reduction of morbidity and mortality in patients with conditions caused by antibiotic-resistant strains.16
Menarini is an active partner of the AMR Action Fund together with other leading pharmaceutical companies in the world. This collaboration aims to bring 2 to 4 innovative antibiotics to patients by 2030.16
Furthermore the “Infection in Focus” website was created by Menarini, with the endorsement of the Italian Antibiotic – Antiviral – Antifungal Society (SITA), to increase awareness of antimicrobial resistance, educate the public about the correct use of antibiotics, and give voice to the stories of patients and caregivers.
For this year’s World AMR Awareness Week, Menarini’s commitment to spreading this message to a global audience has resulted in a multimedia campaign that engages the Group’s social media with the awareness video “Fighting AMR together”, making this crucial topic accessible to the general public.
Watch the video:
By supporting research and innovation, Menarini Group aims to take a leading role in fighting antimicrobial resistance and ensuring a healthier and safer future for all.
The World AMR Awareness Week offers us a chance to reflect on the importance of preventing antimicrobial resistance. By joining forces, we can work together to protect the effectiveness of antibiotics, preserve our healthcare systems, and safeguard the well-being of future generations.
- Allel K, Day L, Hamilton A, Lin L, Furuya-Kanamori L, Moore CE, Van Boeckel T, Laxminarayan R, Yakob L. Global antimicrobial-resistance drivers: an ecological country-level study at the human-animal interface. Lancet Planet Health. 2023 Apr;7(4):e291-e303. doi: 10.1016/S2542-5196(23)00026-8. PMID: 37019570.
- Lancet 2022
www.thelancet.com, Vol 399 February 12, 2022
- O’Neill J. Tackling drug-resistant infections globally: final report and recommendations. London: Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, 2016.
- O’Neill J. Antimicrobial resistance: tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations. London: Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, 2014.
- GW Antibiotic Resistance Action Center
- WHO_Antimicrobial Stewardship Programmes
- BSAC_Antimicrobial Stewardship_From principle to practice
- CDC_Core Elements of Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship