Many of us will be unaware of the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), however this year people across the world are being asked to ‘Go Blue’ to raise awareness of the issue.

Celebrated between 18-24 November each year, the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week aims to increase awareness of global AMR and encourages people to find out more, helping to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

Antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics – are medicines used to treat infections in humans, animals and plants. All around the world bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites are changing and starting not to respond to the medicines used to treat the infections they cause.

This antimicrobial resistance emerges naturally, usually through genetic changes. However, the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials have accelerated the development of antimicrobial resistance, as has a lack of clean water and sanitation and inadequate infection prevention and control. This makes infections harder to treat, which increases the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

There are some simple things you can do to help reduce the spread of AMR:

  • do not use antibiotics to treat viral infections, such as influenza, the common cold, a runny nose or a sore throat. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for other ways to feel better
  • use antibiotics only when prescribed for you
  • when you are prescribed antibiotics, take the full course prescribed even if you are feeling better. Ensure that members of your family do the same
  • never share antibiotics with others or use leftover prescriptions – return them to the pharmacy to be safely destroyed.

Chief Pharmacist with NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Katherine Gough said “On this World Antibiotic Awareness Week, I am thinking about the potential harm that antibiotic overuse does to the environment, and in turn to ourselves through development of resistant bugs.

“I want to make sure that when we use antibiotics, we use them only when prescribed and for the correct number of days. If we have any leftover in the bottle/pack after the course is completed then I want to make sure everyone takes the remainder to a community pharmacy for safe destruction to avoid any harm to aquatic life, the wider environment and to keep our lovely sea blue.”

For more information