World Antibiotic Awareness Week, 16-20 November 2015
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19 November 2015

The first World Antibiotic Awareness Week 16 to 22 November 2015 aims to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers, policy-makers and the agriculture sector to avoid the further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.

As WHO ramps up its fight against antibiotic resistance, a new multi-country survey shows people are confused about this major threat to public health and do not understand how to prevent it from growing.

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change and become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause. Over-use and misuse of antibiotics increase the development of resistant bacteria, and this survey points out some of the practices, gaps in understanding and misconceptions which contribute to this phenomenon.

Almost two thirds (64%) of some 10.000 people who were surveyed across 12 countries say they know antibiotic resistance is an issue that could affect them and their families, but how it affects them and what they can do to address it are not well understood. For example, 64% of respondents believe antibiotics can be used to treat colds and flu, despite the fact that antibiotics have no impact on viruses. Close to one third (32%) of people surveyed believe they should stop taking antibiotics when they feel better, rather than completing the prescribed course of treatment.

Antibiotic resistance is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, as well as poor infection prevention and control. Steps can be taken at all levels of society to reduce the impact and limit the spread of resistance.

The general public can help by: preventing infections by regularly washing hands, practicing good food hygiene, avoiding close contact with sick people and keeping vaccinations up to date; only using antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional; always taking the full prescription; never using left-over antibiotics; never sharing antibiotics with others.



UN Partner Agencies