Stop overuse and misuse of antibiotics: combat resistance

Countries of the WHO Western Pacific Region call for action during World Antibiotic Awareness Week, 13-19 November 2017

Media release

WHO/Y. Shimizu

Amid growing concern over drug-resistant superbugs, the World Health Organization (WHO), communities, health workers, and government officials around Asia and the Pacific are joining together in calling for overuse and misuse of antibiotics to stop.

Antibiotic resistance is rising to very concerning levels in all parts of the world, threatening the ability to treat common infections. Pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning and gonorrhoea, and infections that affect animals, are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective.

When bacteria in the body of a human or animal are exposed to antibiotics, they change to resist the effect of the drug. The more antibiotics are used, the faster resistance develops. Antibiotic-resistant bugs then spread between humans and animals through direct contact, food, or the environment.

“Quite simply, we are running out of effective antibiotics. We can no longer ignore the urgency and gravity of this issue: resistance to antibiotics is a serious public health emergency,” says Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “The consequences are genuinely frightening. As Regional Director of WHO’s most populous region, this is one of the issues that keeps me awake at night. Today, I’m calling on everyone to take the pledge to stop the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.”

Where antibiotics can be bought for human or animal use without a prescription, the emergence and spread of resistance is made worse. Examples of misuse include taking antibiotics for viral infections such as colds and flu, and using them as animal growth promoters on farms or in aquaculture.

To tackle these problems, WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) are working together to promote best practices to reduce antibiotic resistance.

Today, WHO’s Western Pacific Region is launching a year-long race to a million pledges—an online campaign inviting people to commit to stopping overuse and misuse of antibiotics.

In countries across the region, a variety of events are being held to mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week, 13-19 November 2017 involving communities, patients, health providers, veterinarians, farmers, policy makers and others. They include:

  • The Government of Japan is hosting a One Health conference and symposium on antimicrobial resistance in Tokyo 13-14 November attended by England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, and Asia Pacific government representatives.
  • In China, a doctor-patient dialogue will be held at Peking University Hospital and the WHO China office will host a policy roundtable discussion on antimicrobial resistance.
  • The Government of Papua New Guinea will launch their National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance on 20 November, with officials from the Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and Conservation and Environment Protection Authority. The launch will include a media conference.
  • In Viet Nam’s Vinh Phuc province, representatives from four ministries are gathering to reaffirm their commitment to tackling antibiotic resistance. At the same event, the winners of a nationwide photo competition on the rational use of antibiotics in agriculture will be announced and students will participate in a flashmob.
  • In the Philippines, National Antibiotic Guidelines will be launched, and winners of an antibiotic resistance jingle-making contest will be announced.
  • The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care is disseminating the results of the Australian aged care National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey, promoting antimicrobial prescribing guidelines and resources for veterinarians, and encouraging all of the country’s health services and hospitals to take part in Antibiotic Awareness Week.
  • In Cook Islands, the results of a school programme to prevent infections by improving children’s hand hygiene will be presented.
  • In Cambodia, a high-level meeting of WHO, FAO, OIE, Government and other partners will be convened to renew actions to combat antimicrobial resistance using a One Health approach.
  • In Samoa, a celebration to mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week will be held during their annual health forum.

About the week

In the WHO Western Pacific Region, the 2017 World Antibiotic Awareness Week campaign emphasizes the need to prevent infections and stop overuse and misuse of antibiotics. A Facebook Live interview with human and animal health experts will be broadcast from 13:10 Manila time (UTC+8) on Monday, 13 November 2017, at www.facebook.com/whowpro

Globally, WHO, FAO and OIE are reaching out to the general public, governments, human and animal health professionals, farmers, and others to raise awareness of the need to act on antibiotic resistance.

For further information, please contact:

Mr Ruel Serrano
Landline: +63 2 528 9993
Mobile: +63 908 891 4532
Email: serranor@who.int

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