World Health Organization Launches Antimicrobial Resistance Campaign for World Health Day

April 6th, 2011  |  Published in STD Testing

World Health Day, a product of the World Health Organization (WHO), is celebrated around the globe on April 7th. Since 1950, the WHO has used this day as an opportunity to promote awareness of specific global health issues. This year, the campaign is focused on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), an important public health concern in the treatment and fight against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Antimicrobial resistance is resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial medicine to which it was previously sensitive. When antimicrobial treatments (including antibiotics and antiviral medications) become ineffective at eliminating bacteria and viruses, infections persist and spread to others.

Below are 20 important facts regarding AMR:

1. Antimicrobial Resistance Impacts STD Treatment
AMR has become a considerable problem for the treatment of certain STDs, including gonorrhea, that are otherwise commonly curable via antibiotics.

2. Antimicrobial Resistance is a Global Problem

AMR is not limited to industrialized nations. Throughout the past decade, the number of bacteria resistant to antibiotics has increased on a global level.

3. Antimicrobial Resistance Kills
When infectious microorganisms fail to respond to conventional antibiotic treatment, the results can be severe, leading to serious illness and death.

4. Antimicrobial Resistance Causes Infection to Spread

When classic antibiotic treatments don’t work, infections linger increasing likelihood of transmission.

5. Antimicrobial Resistance is Growing
An increase in uncontrollable diseases threatens a return to the pre-antibiotic era in which health-related consequences could be catastrophic.

6. Antimicrobial Resistance Costs Money
When infections can’t be treated with commonly prescribed antibiotics, more expensive alternatives must be employed. In turn, leading to increased hospital visits and overall healthcare costs.

7. Antibiotic Misuse Causes Antimicrobial Resistance

Excessive and improper usage of antibiotics is the primary cause of antimicrobial resistance on a global level. Misguided medical practices and patient demands both play a role in this pervasive problem.

8. Antibiotics Cannot Treat Viruses
Antibiotics are rendered useless and ineffective for illnesses not caused by bacteria. Common ailments such as the flu should not be treated with antibiotics.

9. Pushy Parents Contribute to Antimicrobial Resistance
According to CDC data, a recent study on pediatric care showed that physicians prescribe antibiotics 62% of the time in response to parental expectations and demands. By contrast, doctors only prescribe antibiotics 7% of the time sans parental insistence.

10. Most U.S. Antibiotic Prescriptions are Unnecessary

Antibiotics are prescribed to 68% of patients suffering from acute respiratory tract ailments. Of those, approximately 80% are not necessary according to established CDC guidelines.

11. Billions are Spent Annually on Unneeded Antibiotics
The CDC estimates $1.1 billion is spent each year on unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions designed to treat adult upper respiratory infections.

12. Antimicrobial Resistance Makes Hospitals Less Safe

A large percentage of potentially fatal hospital-acquired infections are caused by extremely resistant bacteria such as MRSA. According to CDC data, approximately 85% of all invasive MRSA infections are associated with healthcare, with one-third of infections occurring during hospitalization.

13. Drug-Resistant TB is a Growing Issue

Though tuberculosis is typically treated successfully with antibiotics, approximately 440,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant TB emerge each year. Related death tolls are estimated at 150,000 annually.

14. Antimicrobial Resistance Compromises HIV Management
AMR is an emerging concern for the treatment of HIV infection, which relies heavily on antiretroviral medication to slow AIDS progression.

15. Antimicrobial Resistance Jeopardizes Major Medical Procedures
The success of treatments such as organ transplantation and invasive surgery is compromised by AMR.

16. Antimicrobial Resistance Affects Cancer Care
Typical cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and surgery, can render affected individuals more vulnerable to outside infection. AMR therefore impacts the ability of medical professionals to treat such infections in already compromised patients.

17. Antimicrobial Resistance is Growing Among Children
According to the CDC, antibiotic resistant infections among children have been on the rise in recent years. This correlates to data confirming that antibiotic usage in the U.S. is highest among children.

18. Patient Misuse Contributes to Antimicrobial Resistance
Failure to follow doctors’ orders or complete courses of antibiotics as prescribed increases the prevalence of AMR.

19. Sharing antibiotics is a major cause of AMR
The practice of trading or saving unused antibiotics has greatly contributed to the problem of AMR.

20. Stopping Antimicrobial Resistance Requires a Joint Effort
Preventing the spread of antimicrobial resistance mandates cooperation and accountability on the part of patients and practitioners alike. The World Health Organization, as part of its new six-point program, will be calling on policymakers, physicians, and pharmaceutical advocates to step up in the fight against AMR.

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