One Health approach to combating Antimicrobial Resistance – how can professionals from different backgrounds unite in this common fight?

antibiotics _

(Adam Nieścioruk, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Aistė Jurkonytė, a 19 years old medical student at Vilnius University (Lithuania). She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Today’s society faces major threat to public health – antimicrobial resistance. For the past few years, medical researchers have been working hand in hand to develop and strengthen public health system so that antimicrobial resistance could be managed. It is important to realize that the great medical breakthrough of the past century could be doomed if the spread of immunity to antimicrobial drugs is not dealt with globally. Thus, achievements in a medical field such as the ability to treat infectious diseases or perform medical procedures like organ transplantation or caesarean sections can become an unsafe practice. Consequently, illnesses may last longer, infections may become incurable and it could result in huge costs for patients. So, how can people from various backgrounds contribute to fighting antimicrobial resistance?

Firstly, one of the ways to combat antimicrobial resistance is by simply spreading and raising awareness through politics. Social activists have a big impact on society and they could be the first ones to bring up the alarming news about this health threat. It is shocking that when World Health Organization published a “Worldwide country situation analysis: Response to antimicrobial resistance” in 2015 it showed that even though many governments are concerned about the problem there are still not enough substantial actions taken. Not only it should become a national priority, but politicians should encourage society-wide participation. For example, the launch of national events could be the first step of raising awareness publicly. Of course, there are such initiatives ongoing already, for instance, World Antibiotic Awareness Week. In brief, antimicrobial resistance awareness-raising events and conferences are the main areas where politicians should be more active and show support on the national level.

Nevertheless, it will take a few years to see the results of the governmental action, so what else could be done? The most effective way to tackle the problem is just by simply starting from yourself. If most of people understand the outcomes of antimicrobial resistance, they are already united. An economist, banker or businessman can contribute equally. It is possible to spread awareness by simply initiating heated debates at one’s workplace. To add, another great way to encourage people to take antimicrobial resistance seriously is by sharing real stories on how this problem has affected others. For example, WHO estimated that 480 000 new cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis occurred in 2014.

Moreover, according to WHO, some countries have reported that 15% of patients had drug-resistant HIV. A change can be achieved by merely using the same set of skills one needs for a daily job. To add, some people use medication without thinking about its possible effects to achieve fast recovery. Employers should consider that as well and do not put pressure on their employees to get back to work to quickly if that means inappropriate use of medicaments. So, critical thinking and common sense might be the simplest, but the most valuable abilities in fighting this problem. This way antimicrobial resistance could be taken under control.

Even though drug resistance is a worldwide problem, but in a long run, there are ways how to prevent it from becoming uncontrollable. In order to succeed, it is of paramount significance to foster critical thinking, educate and encourage people to take proper steps.

References

World Health Organization. (2015). Global Action Plan On Antimicrobial Resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance. (2018, February, 15). World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antimicrobial-resistance

Antimicrobial resistance. (2018, February, 20). World Health Organization. Retrieved from  https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/antimicrobial-resistance

About the author

Aistė Jurkonytė is a 19 years old medical student at Vilnius University (Lithuania). She started her studies this year, however, she has been interested in medical field for quite a while. She believes, that it is important for young people to show their opinion and thoughts on how to bring a change.

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