The global medical fraternity sometimes feels threatened by the increasing number of diseases that are becoming antibiotic-resistant and the antibiotics that are slowly losing their viability. To stress the global need to use antibiotics wisely, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the World Antibiotic Awareness Week today.

The objective of the first World Antibiotics Awareness Week (16 Nov. to 22 Nov. 2015) is to promote and encourage best practices among health workers, physicians, general public, agriculture sector and policy makers so that the further spread of antibiotic resistance is kept in check.

The theme of the multi-year campaign launched by the WHO during the first antibiotics awareness week is “Antibiotics: Handle with care.” As the name suggests, the aim of the campaign is to promote wise use of antibiotics among people.

Misuse or unnecessary use of antibiotics could make bacteria resistant to it, a phenomenon called antimicrobial resistance. Sometimes, antibiotic resistance leads to deadly infections that are hard to treat. It is one of the main reasons behind an increased number of hospital-acquired infections and multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Considering it as a major public health problem, the management of antibiotic resistance has been a priority for the WHO in the recent times. In May 2015, the organization endorsed a global action plan for antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance.

The WHO has provided a list of essential preventive steps that must be followed by people to combat antibiotic resistance. The organization has asked people to take only the medicines prescribed by a doctor and not share it with their family or friends, even if they suffer from the same condition.

Stressing the importance of the quote “prevention is better than cure,” the WHO recommends people not to come in close contact with the sick, take vaccinations and wash hands regularly to prevent infections.