Antibiotic Awareness Week: November 12 - 18, 2018
Today, we mark the beginning of Antibiotic Awareness Week–a global initiative to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This year’s theme is “Think Twice. Seek Advice.” This is an important reminder to seek advice from a qualified health care provider before taking antibiotics and ensure they are used responsibly, in order to preserve their effectiveness.
Antibiotic resistant infections are becoming more frequent and increasingly difficult to treat. As a result, AMR is now recognized as a growing health threat in Canada and around the world. Each year in Canada, 1 in 16 (more than 20,000) hospital patients acquire infections that are resistant to antimicrobials. Left unchecked, AMR could cause a return to a pre-antibiotic era in which common infections could once again become incurable, with grave consequences for the health of Canadians and populations worldwide. With no action, it is estimated that by 2050, annual worldwide human deaths attributable to AMR could reach 10 million.
In 2017, the Government of Canada, in collaboration with provinces and territories and other key stakeholders in the human and animal health sectors, released the Pan-Canadian Framework for Action to coordinate efforts to mitigate the risk of AMR and to protect the health of Canadians. The Progress Report on the Federal Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance and Use, which was released earlier this year, highlighted the “whole of government” approach and our commitment to addressing the complex issue. Health Canada has achieved some of the Framework’s deliverables. For example, the Department is promoting the responsible use of medically important antimicrobials for veterinary use by requiring they be sold by prescription as of December 1, 2018. Health Canada will finalize the Pathogens of Interest List and an updated Notice will be available this month. The list will help inform drug sponsors of the bacterial pathogens in most urgent need of innovative therapeutic drugs and devices in Canada and guide the development of tools and policy approaches by Health Canada. We are now working on a Pan-Canadian Action Plan, to identify concrete actions to tackle AMR and maintain a future where antibiotics remain effective in treating infections in Canada.
Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Government of Canada has invested over $107 million in AMR research in the last five years. The research aims to address different aspects of this global health issue and offers solutions to tackle it such as understanding the mechanisms of resistance, discovery and design of new antimicrobials, vaccine development and alternatives to antibiotics. CIHR is also a leading funder of the international Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance, a collaboration of over 25 chiefly European countries.
The overuse and misuse of antibiotics are recognized as key causes of AMR. We all have a role to play in using antibiotics responsibly in order to preserve their effectiveness for the future. That is why Canada is applying a “One Health” approach to AMR and antimicrobial use, which involves strengthening the cooperation between human health, animal health, and agri-food sectors and recognizing the importance of incorporating environmental considerations into this fight. If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not share them with others, and bring unused antibiotics to the pharmacy for safe disposal. I also strongly encourage health providers to reinforce when antibiotics should and shouldn’t be used, and how to take them responsibly. Canadians can find more ways to reduce their risk of infection at Canada.ca/antibiotics.
I truly believe that through our collective action, we can address this serious threat to global health. This Antibiotic Awareness Week let us all renew our commitment to fighting antimicrobial resistance.
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
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