Bacteria are steadily becoming less and less responsive to currently available antibiotics. Together with members of the public, we explored the hot topic of ‘antimicrobial resistance’ at the European Researchers’ Night on 27 September 2019 in Padua, Italy. Every year in the EU alone, an estimated 33,000 people die as a result of infections that cannot be treated with antimicrobial drugs. Sure enough, the World Health Organization (WHO) has placed the growth of antimicrobial resistance on its list of top five threats to global health in 2019.
A total of 57 people took part in the interactive WHO online survey, and the results proved eye-opening! 21% of respondents believed that antibiotics were effective against viruses or all microorganisms. Meanwhile, only one third of people interviewed knew that the overuse of antibiotics leads to higher levels of resistance in microbes, and not in the human body itself.
It’s clear there is still much work to be done to fill the knowledge gaps on this critical issue. Scientific and academic institutions need to continue strengthening their efforts to make people aware that every one of us is responsible for halting the rise in antimicrobial resistance. Wash your hands properly, always seek for medical advice before taking an antibiotic and remember that drug resistance is becoming a problem not only in people, but also in animals, especially those used for food production, as well as in the environment. Without the proper action today, there will be no cure tomorrow!