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.
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 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 efforts to combat serious bacterial infections and AMR encompass a range of activities, including:
We leverage our Network of top-notch researchers to promote interaction between various research activities focused on AMR affecting child health.
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.
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.