‘Your infection can’t be treated’… a phrase too close to reality

You go to the doctor’s in pain, and you think it might be an infection. A course of antibiotics should be able to cure it, right?

Well, not necessarily. For while we’ve grown accustomed to antibiotics underpinning modern medicine, they themselves are now under threat from drug-resistant bacteria. Indeed, a recent government report has shown that drug-resistant infections are set to kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined by 2050 – making antibiotic resistance one of the biggest threats to global human health.

There is a critical need for new antibiotics, and scientists around the world, including here at the University of Plymouth, are working to develop what would be the first new class of drug in three decades. But there is a role that we can all play when it comes to helping to preserve our existing antibiotics.

Next week is World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Orchestrated by the World Health Organization, the week is designed to engage everybody with the issue of antibiotic resistance, and to encourage best practice among the general public, health workers and policy makers alike.

And what does that look like for us? Well, here are some things that we can all do:

  • We shouldn’t take antibiotics unless they’re prescribed, otherwise our bodies may well become used to them, and become resistant to their effects. We should use them sparingly.
  • If you are prescribed antibiotics, you should take the full course, as prescribed by the healthcare professional. So, no skipping doses, otherwise the bacteria might become resistant.
  • You should take antibiotics for a bacterial infection only – they do not work for viral colds and flu.
  • Never save or stockpile antibiotics for when you get sick.
  • There is no added benefit to using soaps with antibacterial agents when compared with plain soap.
  • We can all spread the word about antibiotic resistance. Tell your family and friends to preserve antibiotics and keep them working for future generations!
Here at the University, we’re marking World Antibiotic Awareness Week with a host of engaging events. We’re inviting everyone to a free public evening on the main campus for Antibiotic Resistance: A problem that affects all of us on Thursday 15 November 2018. Dr Tina Joshi is hosting an expert panel featuring doctors, dentists and national policy experts to talk about the scale of the problem and what we can do to help.

This is part of our ongoing commitment to educate the public about the dangers of antimicrobial resistance, and we regularly speak at local events. If you would like to find out more about our research that is focused on the development of new antibiotics and point-of-care diagnostics to help appropriate antibiotic prescribing, there is more information available on the University website, via the links below.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week:
12–18 November 2018

World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to highlight the issue of antibiotic resistance, one of the most significant current threats to global health.

Currently, antibiotic resistant infections kill over 700,000 people worldwide each year, a figure expected to rise to 10 million by 2050 unless something is done today. 

The University has organised some events for WAAW to highlight the issue of antibiotic resistance, with all proceeds going to the Peninsula Medical Foundation to support pioneering research, pilot projects, clinical trials and PhD research students at the University of Plymouth's Medical School. 

View our WAAW events here