World Antimicrobial Awareness Week – 18–24 November 2020

This week we remind ourselves that using antibiotics too much or incorrectly increases drug resistance in the bugs we’re trying to kill. This makes infections harder to treat and increases the risk of disease, severe illness and death. Only use antibiotics when necessary and as directed by your doctor.

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to:

  • increase global awareness of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
  • encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites develop the ability to resist the effects of medications. This makes it harder to treat common infections and increases the risks of disease spreading, severe illness and death.

Antimicrobials are critical tools for fighting diseases in humans, animals and plants. They include:

  • antibiotics
  • antivirals
  • antifungals
  • antiparasitic medicines.

Multiple factors have accelerated the threat of antimicrobial resistance worldwide, including:

  • overuse of medicines in humans, livestock, and agriculture
  • poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

You can play an important role in limiting the development of AMR by:

  • regularly washing your hands and keeping up to date with vaccinations to prevent infections
  • washing fruits and vegetables and cooking food properly to prevent food-borne infections
  • understanding that antibiotics only work against bacteria – they don’t work for colds and flus which are caused by viruses
  • not pressuring health professionals for antibiotics if they say you don’t need them – instead ask about other ways to relieve your symptoms
  • only taking antibiotics when your doctor prescribes them for you and not using or sharing leftover antibiotics
  • following your health professional’s instructions when they prescribe antibiotics for you.

Learn more about World Antimicrobial Awareness Week.

Read a statement by Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Veterinary officer about World Antimicrobial Awareness Week.

Date published:

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