16 November 2015
This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) will launch the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week. The campaign runs from 16 to 22 November and calls on individuals, governments, and health professionals to take action to address antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics are important for treating infections that are caused by bacteria but they can lose their effectiveness, and bacteria can become resistant if antibiotics are overused. This makes it difficult to treat some serious illnesses.
To mark this world event, the States of Jersey has launched an awareness campaign to remind Islanders that antibiotics should only be used when necessary and as prescribed by a doctor. The campaign, which comes with the slogan “Antibiotics – treat them with respect or they won’t treat you”, has been designed to highlight the importance of this issue.
Threat to global health
States of Jersey Prescribing Adviser, Paul McManus, said “Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health right now. By not using them correctly we contribute to the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. We need to work together to slow resistance and to do this we need to cut the unnecessary use of antibiotics, such as for simple coughs and colds. We hope this campaign will encourage Islanders to treat antibiotics with respect.”
Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Turnbull, said “It is up to all of us, healthcare professionals and members of the public to help solve the crisis of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are valuable tools in our armoury to fight infections and we all need to be using them more wisely. Changing our attitudes and behaviours towards antibiotics and taking the care to use them responsibly will help keep them effective for the future.”
The overuse of antibiotics in recent years has played a major part in antibiotic resistance. This includes using antibiotics to treat minor conditions that would have got better anyway. Many such conditions, like coughs, colds and sore throats, are caused by a virus and antibiotics don’t work against viruses.
The advice promoted by the campaign is, if your doctor has prescribed an antibiotic for you, it is important that that you always follow the steps below:
- take the whole course as prescribed
- don’t stop taking them (even when you start to feel better)
- don’t save some for later or for someone else
- if you have any questions about your medicine, ask your pharmacist