World AMR Awareness Week 2023: Joining forces to combat Antimicrobial Resistance

21 Nov, 2023

As we observe World AMR Awareness Week (WAAW) 2023, the theme of “Preventing antimicrobial resistance together” serves as a stark reminder of the collective responsibility we all share in preserving the effectiveness of these lifesaving medications. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a serious threat to global health, jeopardising the treatment of infections in humans, animals, and plants. It is a silent pandemic that has the potential to undo decades of progress in medicine.

The escalating threat of antimicrobial resistance

AMR occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, develop the ability to evade the action of antimicrobial drugs, making them ineffective in combating infections. This phenomenon is a natural consequence of evolution, but the widespread misuse of antibiotics in human and animal medicine, agriculture, and the environment has accelerated the emergence and spread of resistant microorganisms.

The implications of AMR are far-reaching and deeply concerning. Without effective antimicrobials, routine medical procedures, such as surgeries, organ transplants, and cancer treatments, become increasingly risky. Common infections, once easily treated, could become life-threatening. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that AMR could lead to 10 million deaths annually by 2050, surpassing the death toll from cancer.

Penta – Child Health Research: A champion of maternal and child health

Penta – Child Health Research is a leading organisation devoted to determining and implementing the best ways to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases in children and pregnant people. “Our activities are all about making things better for kids, from when they are born all the way through their teenage years”, explains Julia Bielicki, working group lead for severe bacterial infections and AMR at Penta. “We are conducting research to develop new strategies for preventing and treating childhood infections, and we are working to educate healthcare professionals and the public about the importance of using antibiotics responsibly”.

Penta’s multifaceted approach to combating AMR

Penta’s efforts to combat serious bacterial infections and AMR encompass a range of activities, including:

  • Conducting research on neonatal infections, which are a major cause of death and disability in newborns. 
  • Conducting large-scale clinical trials to improve the way we manage childhood pneumonia. 
  • Promoting evidence-based antibiotic prescribing practices among healthcare professionals to curb the overuse and misuse of these medications.
  • Raising awareness about AMR among the public, empowering individuals to make informed decisions that contribute to responsible antibiotic use.
  • Engaging in collaborative research partnerships to foster knowledge sharing and accelerate progress in AMR prevention and control. 

We leverage our Network of top-notch researchers to promote interaction between various research activities focused on AMR affecting child health.

A call for cross-sectoral collaboration

The fight against AMR is a global challenge that demands a united front. Penta advocates for a multi-pronged approach that engages stakeholders from various sectors.

An example of cross-sectoral research involving members of the Penta AMR working group is a recently funded project that will look at new ways of checking for AMR in rural African villages to understand what resistant bacteria might be expected in hospitals serving those areas. This includes looking at people but also chickens, homes and loos! 

By working together, we can implement effective measures to reduce the unnecessary use of antimicrobials, promote infection prevention and control practices, and invest in research and development of new antibiotics.

Conclusion: Preserving the power of antimicrobials for future generations

As we celebrate WAAW 2023, let us reaffirm our collective commitment to preventing antimicrobial resistance and preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics for generations to come. Through concerted action, we can safeguard the health and well-being of individuals, communities, and the planet, ensuring that antimicrobials continue to serve as guardians of human health.