The emerging AMR emergency: World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2022

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) starts on the 18th of November 2022
• This year’s theme is Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together.
• WAAW 2002 aims to counter rising numbers of treatment-resistant pathogens.
• Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) caused over 1.27 million deaths in 2019.
WHO is calling on all sectors to prevent this emerging AMR emergency.

AMR, which is short for antimicrobial resistance, is a growing threat to global health. Before the advent of antibiotics, infections that we would find benign and quickly treatable today could often prove fatal for our ancestors. In 1928 Alexander Flemming famously discovered penicillin. But it was only in the 1940s, the dawn of the ‘golden age of antibiotics’, that they became widely used. Despite this still being in living memory, bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites have since evolved resistance to medications used to treat infections.

The event, run by the World Health Organization, aims to counter this emerging emergency of treatment-resistant pathogens by raising awareness and research about AMR. So, we’re highlighting the intractable problem of tackling anti-microbial resistance, key efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance, and new antimicrobial metals: a recycled weapon against bacteria to help beat AMR back to the confines of history.

Tackling anti-microbial resistance: Updated ways to approach an intractable problem

The complex and refractory problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is posing an ever-more serious threat to human health. Norway has employed a successful national strategy since 1998 to combat this problem and is now one of the lowest-prescribing countries in Europe. However, to ensure continuing success, Professor Guri Rørtveit of the University of Bergen, Norway, urges a contemporary approach to accompany traditional ideas, re-framing AMR under the paradigm of two philosophical concepts: ‘super wicked problems’, and ‘post-normal’ science.

Laboratory strengthening efforts key to combat antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is of increasing international concern. It threatens the effectiveness of existing treatments against many infectious diseases. Low- and middle-income countries are most at risk, particularly as local and national healthcare approaches are often not set up to tackle the problem. Researchers have developed a sustainable clinical bacteriology sector at the Tikur Anbessa Specialised Hospital in Addis Ababa. The project’s success demonstrates that local interventions can lead to sustainable improvements in approaches to AMR.

Antimicrobial metals: A recycled weapon against bacteria

Antibiotics are key in facilitating the increase of life expectancies by nearly 30 years in the US, and have been since the 1920s. Before the development of antibiotics, even a seemingly innocuous cut could have fatal results when a bacterial infection took hold. However, with the growing use of these wonder drugs, bacterial resistance has become an increasing problem, one that Professor Raymond J Turner at the University of Calgary, Canada, is working to solve by revisiting and developing metal-containing antimicrobials.


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