West Yorkshire residents urged to take antibiotics seriously this World Antimicrobial Awareness Week

The NHS in Leeds and across West Yorkshire will be joining health organisations around the world this week (18-24 November) to raise awareness of the global problem of antibiotic resistance and to encourage people to pledge to tackle it.

According to the World Health Organisation, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats to global health. Drug-resistant infections killed 1.25 million people in the world in 2019, including 141,000 patients in high income countries like the UK. This is estimated to rise to 10 million deaths per year by 2050 if we don’t act now.

Antibiotics kill bacteria or prevent them from spreading, but because bacteria are adapting to survive them, these medicines are becoming less effective. If antibiotics stop working to treat infections, this might stop us from carrying out common healthcare activities such as doing major operations or giving cancer treatments where infections are common, and we need effective antibiotics to prevent them. We may see more premature babies, children and adults on intensive care dying from infections.

That’s why healthcare professionals across the region are supporting Seriously Resistant (www.seriouslyresistant.com), a campaign originally developed in Leeds that aims to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and educate people how they can help to keep antibiotics working.

Dr James Thomas, Medical Director for the NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: “Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest global health threats facing us today and one that we’re committed to tackling in West Yorkshire.

“Just as we have taken steps to manage other health threats, for example, coronavirus, there are also ways that we can tackle antibiotic resistance.

“Antibiotics should only be used when we really need them. For example, colds, flu and most coughs are viral infections, and antibiotics can’t treat those. All you need is plenty of rest and a visit to your local pharmacy for remedies that you can buy over the counter.

“Listen to your healthcare professional’s advice. If you are given antibiotics, it’s important that you finish the full course, not save them for future use, and never share them with others. If you do have any left over for any reason, take them back to your pharmacy so they can be disposed of safely.

“Another important factor is preventing infections in the first place – something we should all be familiar with now – by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding close contact with sick people, practising safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date.”

David Smith, Director of Pharmacy at NHS West Yorkshire ICB, said:  “Reducing antibiotic use and antibiotic resistant infections is one of the ten big ambitions for the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership. We’re working with healthcare professionals across the region to reduce antibiotic prescribing so that they’re only used when necessary, but we also need the support of all who live and work here to achieve our goal.

“You can pledge to make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete by becoming an Antibiotic Guardian – antibioticguardian.com/

“To find out what you, your family and friends can do to help tackle antibiotic resistance and to help keep antibiotics working, please also visit www.seriouslyresistant.com

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