First World Antibiotic Awareness Week: 16-22 November 2015

The World Health Organization (WHO) is organizing the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week from 16 to 22 November 2015.

Background Information:

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, become antibiotic resistant. These bacteria may then infect humans and are harder to treat than non-resistant bacteria.

Key Messages:

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health today. It can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.

Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays and increased mortality.

Causes of Antibiotic Resistance:

  • Over-prescribing of antibiotics
  • Patients not finishing their treatment
  • Over-use of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming
  • Poor infection control in hospitals and clinics
  • Lack of hygiene and poor sanitation
  • Lack of new antibiotics being developed

Antibiotic resistance is often the result of prescribing the wrong Drug at the wrong Dose for the wrong Duration

How antibiotic resistance spreads:

Antibiotics are given to food producing animals and crops–> Animals develop drug-resistant bacteria in their gut–> Drug-resistant bacteria reaches humans through food, the environment (water, soil, air) or by direct human-animal contact                                                                     I                                                                                                                                                 I                                                                                                                                                v

Drug-resistant bacteria spreads to the general public                                                                                    ^                                                                                                                                                I                                                                                                                                                  I                                                                                                                           Antibiotics are given to patients, which can result in drug-resistant bacteria developing in the gut–> Patient attends hospital or clinic–> Drug-resistant bacteria spreads to other patients through poor hygiene and unclean facilities

Antibiotic Resistance: What you can do

  • Only use antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional
  • Always take the full prescription, even if you feel better
  • Never use left over antibiotics
  • Never share antibiotics with others
  • Prevent infections by regularly washing your hands, avoiding contact with sick people and keeping your vaccinations up to date

Antibiotic Resistance: What Policy Makers can do

  • Ensure you have a robust national action plan to tackle antibiotic resistance
  • Improve surveillance of antibioticresistant infections
  • Strengthen infection prevention and control measures
  • Make information on the impact of antibiotic resistance available
  • Regulate and promote the appropriate use of quality medicines

Antibiotic Resistance: What Health Workers can do

  • Prevent infections by ensuring your hands, instruments and environment are clean
  • Keep your patients’ vaccinations up to date
  • If you think a patient might need antibiotics, where possible, test to confirm and find out which one
  • Only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are truly needed
  • Prescribe and dispense the right antibiotic at the right dose for the right duration

Antibiotic Resistance: What the Agriculture Sector can do

  • Ensure that antibiotics given to animals are only used to control or treat infectious diseases and under veterinary supervision
  • Vaccinate animals to reduce the need for antibiotics and develop alternatives to the use of antibiotics in plants
  • Promote and apply good practices at all steps of production and processing of foods from animal and plant sources
  • Adopt sustainable systems with improved hygiene, biosecurity and stress-free handling of animals
  • Implement international standards for the responsible use of antibiotics and guidelines, set out by OIE, FAO and WHO

Useful Links:

Link to the World Antibiotic Awareness Week Web Page:

Link to the poster on Antibiotic Resistance ‘What you can do’ (English) (jpeg):

Link to the poster on Antibiotic Resistance ‘What health workers can do’ (English) (jpeg):

Link to the poster on Antibiotic Resistance ‘What policy makers can do’ (English) (jpeg):

Link to the poster on Antibiotic Resistance ‘What the agriculture sector can do’ (English) (jpeg):

Link to all posters (PDF):

Link to the infographic ‘Causes of antibiotic resistance’ (PDF):

Link to the infographic ‘Antibiotic resistance How it spreads’ (PDF):

Link to the infographic ‘Antibiotic resistance What you can do’ (PDF):

Link to the infographic ‘Antibiotic resistance What policy makers can do’ (PDF):

Link to the infographic ‘Antibiotic resistance What health workers can do’ (PDF):

Link to all infographics (PDF):

Link to a postcard on World Antibiotic Awareness Week (PDF):

Link to the World Antibiotic Awareness Week Campaign Toolkit (PDF):

Link to the WHO fact sheet on Antibiotic Resistance (updated October 2015):


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