Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most urgent health threats we face globally
Imagine this: You or someone you love develops an infection. It's something common - maybe an infected tooth, a wound or pneumonia. They take the antibiotics exactly as prescribed, but they have no effect! The infection persists and even worsens. What is going on?
You or your loved one have a superbug! (multi-resistant bacteria that cause infections that are not treatable with antibiotics). This is a case of antimicrobial resistance (a.k.a superbug). It means that the bacteria that caused the infection is resistant to the antibiotic. Certain bacteria have adapted, in order to survive the effects of antibiotics. In some cases, ALL antibiotics can be ineffective against the bacteria, and those infections are impossible to treat. This is a real, urgent and scary problem. Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and Carbapenem-resistant organisms (CRO), and Neisseria gonorrhoeae are examples of superbugs.
Imagine a world where medications like antibiotics no longer work.
Antibiotics don't work against common cold and flu viruses and are often unnecessary for some common bacterial infections, such as upper respiratory infections and acute bronchitis. Despite these facts, inappropriate antibiotic prescription remains common in Canada–estimated at over 30% of all prescriptions, and 50% of prescriptions for respiratory infections.
The good news is that if we all learn about this problem and use medications prescribed for infections antibiotics appropriately, we can keep these life-saving medicines effective for future generations. We can be stewards of antimicrobial medications, in the same way we are stewards of the environment.
Here are a few things each of us can do:
- What are the first steps to deal with an infection? Wait and See
- What’s bugging you?
- Learn more about how to manage viral illnesses;
- Learn more about taking antibiotics the right way, how to stop antibiotic resistance, and superbugs
- From short videos such as: why is antimicrobial stewardship important and antibiotic resistance: the silent tsunami
- Or reputable websites:
- Antibiotics Wisely - Choosing Wisely Canada
- It's important to follow prescription instructions—the right dose, at the right time for the right duration. Don't save them for later or share with others. Learn from other people's experiences Like Mary's, Pearl's and others'.
Your health practices matter: hand hygiene, manage chronic conditions, keep wounds clean, cough etiquette, environmental cleaning, cook foods safely, practice safe sex, update vaccinations. Discuss how to prevent infections with your care providers.
See guidance from Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Healthcare Excellence Canada and Patients for Patient Safety Canada Spread the word.
Talk to your friends and family and engage in awareness campaigns;
- Antibiotic Awareness Week Canada and World Antibiotic Awareness Week (November 18-24)
- Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Coalition has resources on YouTube and Facebook:
- Researchers estimate that without action, by 2050 deaths due to antibiotic resistance will be greater than deaths due to cancer and road traffic accidents combined!
Canada is actively engaged in global efforts to fight AMR, Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use: A Pan-Canadian Framework for Action outlines the context and the foundation to guide a pan-Canadian approach.
Imagine that each of us takes action to protect the healing power of antibiotics for future generations.
Imagine a world where antibiotics do work!
What more do you think we could do?
Tell us at patients4safety@hec-esc-ca