“I join the International Community to make this urgent call to action in order to limit the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance,” wrote Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Department for the Service of Integral Human Development, in a Message on the occasion of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW), Nov. 12-18.
Challenge to global public health
Despite antibiotics saving millions of lives and alleviating human suffering since their discovery, the cardinal noted, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals have encouraged the spread of antibiotic resistance, which occurs when microbes, such as bacteria, become resistant to the drugs used to treat them.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), he said poses a great challenge to global public health today, which if left unaddressed, will put at risk the effectiveness of modern medicine. It also is a threat to hundreds of millions of people who have no access to health care and are most susceptible to diseases related to antimicrobial resistance.
In this regard, Card. Turkson said, tens of thousands of Church-sponsored health care institutions and education centres and other faith-based organizations are well positioned to encourage ongoing support, mobilize individual and community action and advance social and medical practices to combat the emergence and spread of AMR”.
Faith communities, both at institutional and local levels, he said, are well positioned to promote several effective and sustainable initiatives to address the problem.
Card. Turkson pointed to a few initiatives that faith-based organizations have indicated for communities to achieve immediate and sustained behaviour change in order to reduce the emergence and spread of AMR.
* Enhance awareness and education on methods to prevent and control infections
* Create understanding of the individual and community impact of the misuses of and self-medication with antimicrobials
* Build trust within the community to enhance surveillance and improve infections prevention and control, particularly trust in vaccines
* Enable reliable and sustainable access to, and use of, water, sanitation, and hygiene