Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, evolve and develop resistance to the drugs designed to combat them. This can make infections and diseases caused by these resistant microorganisms more difficult to treat, leading to increased mortality, prolonged illnesses, and higher healthcare costs.
To address this issue, in May 2015, World Health Assembly adopted a global action plan to combat antimicrobial resistance. An annual global campaign that aims to raise awareness about the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to promote actions to address this issue, while encouraging One Health collaboration was identified as an important activity. This campaign was known as World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW). Since this year it is named as World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week (WAAW).
The week falls in 18th to 24th November each year and is organized by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The theme for WAAW this year remains consistent with the previous year. “Preventing antimicrobial resistance together.” This highlights the importance of encouraging best practices among the public, One Health stakeholders and policymakers, all of whom play a critical role in reducing the emergence and spread of AMR. The danger of antimicrobial resistance extends beyond humans posing a significant threat to animals, plants, and the environment.
During World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week, globally various activities and initiatives are undertaken to engage healthcare professionals, policymakers, the general public, and other stakeholders in discussions about the responsible use of antibiotics.
Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists (SLCM) is also planning several island wide activities mediated through the council along with the general membership. 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 of SLCM together with the general membership, plan to continue such activities throughout the year to have a sustainable awareness on AMR among the prescribers, pharmacists and the general public.
- Prescriber awareness programs
- Medical students’ drama co0mpetition and a real-time online quiz program on AMR related topics.
- Series of prescriber awareness programmes for clinicians and medical officers on gravity of the problem, antimicrobial stewardship, rational prescription of empiric antibiotics based on the national guidelines and AWaRe classification. Physicians are participated as resource persons to express their views. This progamme covers the Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western and Central provinces of Sri Lanka.
- Awareness on AMR for pharmacists
Series of workshops for pharmacists on rules and regulations, AWaRe classification and responsible dispensing for tackling AMR Covering Southern, Western, Eastern, and Central provinces.
- 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.
- Awareness programs led by all clinical microbiologists at hospital levels for health care providers and public including children
- It is expected to launch the National Strategic Plan for Combating Antimicrobial Resistance in Sr Lanka and National Action Plan with Monitoring and Evaluation Parameters 2023- 2028 at the national event to celebrate WAAW 2023. This was prepared by Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists in collaboration with the mutisectoral platform, MoH and WHO.
Dr Malika Karunaratne
Consultant Clinical Microbiologist
President, Sri Lanka College of Microbiologist