The Optical Confederation (OC) has joined a global call to raise awareness of the overuse of antibiotics.
In support of the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week, which was launched this week (16–22 November) to raise awareness of the growing issue of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the OC is encouraging optical professionals to pledge their support on social media.
The theme of the global campaign is ‘Antibiotics: Handle with care,’ and is aimed at governments, healthcare and agricultural workers, and individuals to highlight the issue and take action towards tackling antibiotic resistance.
The OC will create a thunderclap on Twitter, scheduled for 11am on Monday 30 November, which will post the pledge simultaneously through the Twitter accounts of all users who have signed up to show their support.
Chair of the OC, Chris Hunt, said: “As optical professionals we will continue to play our part promoting safe antibiotic prescribing. All optometrists can prescribe certain antibiotics, and a growing number have achieved Independent Prescriber status to offer a higher level of additional support to private and some NHS patients.”
A growing problem
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that AMR is increasing worldwide, to the extent where it is reducing our ability to tackle disease caused by microorganisms. There is increasing evidence that fungi, viruses, parasites and bacteria are developing resistance to drug treatments, including the last-resort antibiotics, with higher proportions of antibiotic resistance in bacteria which cause common infections, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (pictured).
In 2013, the government’s chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davis, said that AMR poses a “catastrophic threat." She added: “If we don’t act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can’t be treated by antibiotics. And routine operations like hip replacements or organ transplants could be deadly because of the risk of infection.”
Earlier this year, research commissioned by the Wellcome Trust highlighted the extent of poor public understanding around the issue. It found that among those who had heard of antibiotic resistance, the majority thought it involved the human body developing resistance to antibiotics, rather than bacteria evolving resistance to the drugs.
The WHO’s global action plan for tackling AMR includes increasing awareness and understanding of the issue, reducing the incidence of infections and ensuring that drugs such as antibiotics are only prescribed when they are truly needed.
Image credit: National Institutes of Health