World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021: Spread awareness, stop resistance

Dr. Andrea Kent, Nova Scotia Health Clinical Coordinator for the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program and Clinical Pharmacist
Dr. Andrea Kent, Nova Scotia Health Clinical Coordinator for the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program and Clinical Pharmacist

Antimicrobial resistance is an issue in Nova Scotia and has the potential to grow, but some of the precautions we’ve become accustomed to during the pandemic can help protect against this.

 As a clinical pharmacist and the Clinical Coordinator for the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program with Nova Scotia Health, Dr. Andrea Kent’s role is to help ensure Nova Scotians are using antibiotics appropriately.

”We always encourage people to use antibiotics when they need them and when they are prescribed by a doctor, but we also know that up to 50 per cent of antibiotic prescriptions may be inappropriate in some way,” said Dr. Kent.

“And so our role is to try and make sure that everybody's getting the right antibiotic, when they need it, so that it will be most effective.”

Dr. Kent shared that 15 Canadians die each day from antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

“Antimicrobial resistance (in Canada) may not be to the extent that it is in other countries, but the pandemic has really shown that we are a global nation and anything that's happening elsewhere in the world is going to affect us here as well.”

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, which runs between Nov. 18 and 24 this year, is an opportunity to bring awareness to the fact that antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, because we will not be able to fight some bacteria if they get too strong.

What can we do?

There are lots of things that Nova Scotians can do to fight antimicrobial resistance and reduce its threat to our communities, many of which have become common practice as we continue living with COVID-19.

“A lot of the things that we're doing in the pandemic are also good for antimicrobial resistance. We need to wash our hands and we need to get our vaccinations. Another key to fighting antimicrobial resistance is to make sure we’re only taking antibiotics when we absolutely need them and to take them exactly as prescribed,” said Dr. Kent.

When we work together to ensure antibiotics are being used properly and follow simple practices like handwashing, we set Nova Scotia up for success in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. During this World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, we thank healthcare providers, pharmacists, and doctors for their support in being Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness champions.

 

Quick facts on antibiotic resistance:

What is antibiotic resistance?

  • Antibiotic resistance is when bacteria get stronger after antibiotics are used. This means that antibiotics will not work as well to kill those bacteria and treat infections the next time you use them. 
  • Using antibiotics too much, especially when they are not needed or for too long, leads to antibiotic resistance.

Why should I care about antibiotic resistance? I don’t take antibiotics.

  • You can be infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria whether you take antibiotics or not.
  • 15 Canadians die each day from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health because we will not be able to fight some bacteria if they get too strong.
  • You may need antibiotics in the future to treat or prevent an infection, such as during surgery.

What can I do to fight antibiotic resistance?

  • Wash your hands.
  • Cough into your elbow instead of your hand to avoid spreading germs. If you do cough into your hand, wash your hands as soon as possible. 
  • Get vaccinated. Check with your health care provider about your vaccines.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Don’t take antibiotics if you don’t need them. Talk to your doctor about antibiotic resistance before taking antibiotics.