Superbugs – how do you stop them?

 

By Meghan Betts

 

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antimicrobial medicines, as well as poor hygiene and poor infection prevention and control, and is an increasingly serious global health concern. There are various steps that can be taken at every level of society to reduce the impact and limit the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

 

As an individual:

  • Only use antimicrobials when prescribed by your doctor.
  • Never demand antimicrobials when your doctor says you don’t need them.
  • Always follow the instructions and advice of your doctor on how to use your antimicrobials.
  • Complete the entire course of your prescribed antimicrobial medicine, as advised by your doctor.
  • Never share or use leftover antimicrobial medicines.
  • Prevent the spread of infection by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically, practising safer sex and keeping vaccines up to date etc.

 

Working in the healthcare industry:

  • Only prescribe antimicrobials when they are needed, according to current guidelines.
  • Ensure patients understand how to take antimicrobial medications correctly and understand the dangers of misuse and antimicrobial resistance.
  • Ensure your patients are aware of the best practices for preventing infections (vaccinations, safer sex, hand washing etc).
  • Prevent the spread of infections by ensuring your hands, instruments and environment are kept clean and effective barrier equipment (goggles, gloves, gown etc) is used.
  • Maintain safe handling and disposal of sharps and clinical waste.
  • Report antimicrobial-resistant infections to surveillance teams.
  • Invest in research and development of new antimicrobials, vaccines and diagnostic tools.
  • When caring for those infected with an antimicrobial-resistant microbe:

→ Use a single occupancy room with an en-suite or a dedicated toilet.

→ Have dedicated care equipment for that patient.

→ Restrict movement of the patient and their healthcare workers.

 

Working in the agriculture sector:

  • Only give antimicrobials to animals under veterinary supervision.
  • Vaccinate animals and use alternatives to antimicrobials when available.
  • Only use antibiotics to treat infections, not for growth promotion or to prevent disease.
  • Promote and apply good practices throughout stages of production and processing of food from animal and plant sources.
  • Improve hygiene, animal welfare and biosecurity on farms to prevent infections.

 

As policy makers:

  • Ensure a robust national action plan is in place to tackle antibiotic resistance.
  • Educate on the impact of antibiotic resistance.
  • Strengthen policies for infection prevention and control measures.
  • Improve surveillance of antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Regulate the appropriate use and disposal of quality medicines.

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