23 Nov World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2022: Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together
AIGHD is one of the leading research institutes focused on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in the Netherlands. Our research in AMR spans around the globe across interdisciplinary fields. AMR is a global problem affecting many facets of our lives – from the water we drink to the medication we are prescribed. However, it is more detrimental to those living in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), grappling with constrained resources, limited laboratory capacity, and high burdens of infectious disease. AMR is a silent epidemic; microbes are often not aware that they are resistant to treatment until it is too late.
For this year’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), where the theme is “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together”, we are highlighting some of the ways AIGHD research projects are contributing to the prevention of antimicrobial resistance.
What is AIGHD doing to reduce the burden of AMR?
Antimicrobial Resistance has been a major focus for researchers at AIGHD. Most recently, AIGHD has become the coordinator of a Public-Private Partnership called AMR-Global. This partnership brings together organizations, companies, and governmental bodies fighting the burden of AMR by collaborating on research projects. GLORIA, the largest AMR program of AMR-Global includes five projects, two of which have project leads at AIGHD.
The first project, ROTA-Biotic, is led by Vanessa Harris and studies whether how vaccines can prevent inappropriate antibiotic usage in children in LMICs. By reducing illness episodes, vaccines can prevent children from receiving antibiotics from health care practitioners and caregivers. These indirect impacts of vaccination in preventing antibiotic usage are underappreciated and not considered when policy makers introduce vaccines. Rotabiotic tests whether vaccines have this off-target effects among children in Zambia and Ghana.
The second project led by AIGHD Research Fellow, Rik Oldenkamp, is called SWIM. SWIM is a unique project based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, that brings together two governmental funding mechanisms, TKI Water and Health~Holland. The SWIM project applies technology to clean highly polluted water into drinking water. Researchers test this water for antibiotics, AMR genes and resistant bacteria, and conduct an impact study on the process. The water filtration technology, created by a Dutch company called NX Filtration, forces water through microscopic tubes that remove microbiological contamination as well as harmful chemicals such as antibiotics. By improving water quality for those in Dhaka, SWIM will reduce the transfer of antibiotics, AMR genes and resistant bacteria into drinking water, contributing to reducing the burden to antimicrobial resistance.
How can we, as individuals, raise awareness and reduce AMR exposure?
As individuals, it can be difficult to feel that your choices are making a difference, yet every little bit helps. Firstly, reducing antibiotic intake is key. This means educating healthcare practitioners and patients about how inappropriate antibiotic use can drive infections with AMR. It is also important to educate the general public on how to dispose of unused antibiotics, bringing them to pharmacy and waste facilities rather than appropriately instead of flushing them down the toilet. Something as simple as washing fruits and vegetables and eating organic foods can reduce an individual’s inadvertent antibiotic exposure. These choices are better for the planet and our health. Finally, to raise awareness, it is important to continue our education on how we can alleviate the burden of antimicrobial resistance in settings with the least resources to carry the costs.
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is a global campaign that is celebrated annually to improve awareness and understanding of AMR and encourage best practices among the public, One Health stakeholders and policymakers, who all play a critical role in reducing the further emergence and spread of AMR. To learn more about AMR, please visit the WHO website and to learn more about our AMR research, check out AMR-Global’s website.