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Dealing with the evolving threat of antimicrobial resistance

19 Nov 2018

Every November since 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) and member states have commemorated World Antibiotic Awareness Week, an annual observance to improve antibiotic usage and to increase public awareness of the health risks posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

While the threat of a ‘doomsday scenario’ of a post-antibiotic era — where common infections or minor injuries can result in death — has been raised by many experts and organisations, including WHO, the reality is this is an exaggerated worst case future projection and we will never end up in such an apocalyptic future, said Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, Infectious Diseases Programme Leader.

However, this does not deny the seriousness of the problem, he added, illustrating how a worsening of the AMR problem will have implications for countries both rich and poor.

Since the call for action and political declaration on antimicrobial resistance at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016, WHO has worked with partner agencies to develop a global framework to combat AMR. Singapore has also put together a comprehensive National Strategic Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, enhancing and bringing together previous disparate efforts by different agencies.

Awareness of the issue among healthcare workers and policymakers has increased significantly over the past decade, and this is also beginning to enter the public consciousness. Control of drug-resistant infections in our hospitals has continuously improved relative to a decade ago, but will require constant effort and innovation even as the microbes also continue to evolve.

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