World Antibiotic Awareness Week is celebrated from November 13 to 19. This year, the theme is ‘Seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics’.
Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines.
Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant. These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.
Antibiotic resistance can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.
Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.
Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases.
A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gonorrhoea – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.
Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.
Antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. Organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections.
Without urgent action, we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill.
Prevention and Control
To prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance, individuals can:
- Only use antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional.
- Never demand antibiotics if your health worker says you don’t need them.
- Always follow your health worker’s advice when using antibiotics.
- Never share or use leftover antibiotics.
- Prevent infections by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding close contact with sick people, practising safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date.
To prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance, policy makers can:
- Ensure a robust national action plan to tackle antibiotic resistance is in place.
- Improve surveillance of antibiotic-resistant infections.
- Strengthen policies, programmes, and implementation of infection prevention and control measures.
- Regulate and promote the appropriate use and disposal of quality medicines.
- Make information available on the impact of antibiotic resistance.
To prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance, health professionals can:
- Prevent infections by ensuring your hands, instruments, and environment are clean.
- Only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are needed, according to current guidelines.
- Report antibiotic-resistant infections to surveillance teams.
- Talk to your patients about how to take antibiotics correctly, antibiotic resistance and the dangers of misuse.
- Talk to your patients about preventing infections (for example, vaccination, hand washing, safer sex, and covering nose and mouth when sneezing).
To prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance, the health industry can:
- Invest in research and development of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics and other tools.
To prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance, the agriculture sector can:
- Only give antibiotics to animals under veterinary supervision.
- Not use antibiotics for growth promotion or to prevent diseases.
- Vaccinate animals to reduce the need for antibiotics and use alternatives to antibiotics when available.
- Promote and apply good practices at all steps of production and processing of foods from animal and plant sources.
- Improve biosecurity on farms and prevent infections through improved hygiene and animal welfare.
Link to the WHO announcement:
Link to the World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2017 page:
Link to WHO fact sheet on Antibiotic resistance:
Link to World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2017 Campaign materials:
Link to Posters:
Link to Infographics:
Link to material for use in Social Media:
Link to Videos:
Link to Quiz on Antibiotic Resistance:
Link to WHO database on antimicrobial resistance: