Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines, making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat. Among other antimicrobial agents affected by drug resistance are antifungal agents, antivirals and antiparasitic drugs. Although these other antimicrobials are affected to a much lesser extent, they can nevertheless cause difficulties with treatment.
Hence, a global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines was endorsed at the sixty-eighth World Health Assembly in May 2015. One of the key objectives of the plan is to improve awareness and understanding of AMR through effective communication, education and training.
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is a global campaign that is celebrated annually to improve awareness and understanding of AMR and encourage best practices among the public, One Health stakeholders and policymakers, all of who play a critical role in reducing further emergence and spread of AMR. This year’s antimicrobial resistance awareness week falls from the 18th to 24th of November. The theme chosen for this year is “prevention of antimicrobial resistance together”.
Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists is currently planning several activities mediated through the current council along with voluntary microbiologists island wide. Some of these events are supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health (MoH). A summary of on-going and planned activities is given below. The council hopes to carry out most of the mentioned activities year long to achieve a better outcome.
1. Prescriber awareness programs -
- For medical students, a poster competition and a real-time online quiz program on AMR related topics.
- A Google® survey to be done by distributing a Google® form among all prescribers (aiming to send as many Google® forms as possible to prescribers to be filled and returned voluntarily). Subsequently, these will be assessed to understand the level of awareness on AMR and to plan solutions for any lack thereof.
2. Public awareness programs -
- Mass media and social media targeted activities (television, radio, newspapers, Facebook®, Youtube® etc. will be used). The council and several members from SLCM are conducting television discussions, question and answer sessions and expected to have discussions with audience too.
- Dissemination of posters (soft copies) related to antibiotic awareness among school children and on-site awareness programs at selected schools in each province.
- Public awareness programs led by microbiologists at hospital level and RDHS level.
Globally, the week from 18th November to 24th November is recognized as the week to create awareness on AMR. However, the council of SLCM together with the membership, plan to continue such activities throughout the year to have a sustainable awareness among the prescribers and the general public.
Dr. Rohini Wadanamby