Published on: 17 November 2023

Health leaders in Herefordshire and Worcestershire are supporting the World Health Organisation’s message of "Preventing antimicrobial resistance together". Saturday 18 November marks the start of World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week (WAAW) which runs each year from 18 – 24 November.

People are being asked to think about their antibiotic usage. This is as the World Health Organisation considers antimicrobial resistance (or antibiotic resistance) to be one of today's biggest threats to global health, with antimicrobial resistance considered an international health issue and emergency.

The more antimicrobials are used, the greater the risk of gaining a resistance to the drugs prescribed. As a result, antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines become ineffective and infections become increasingly difficult- or even impossible- to treat.

It is estimated that at least 20 per cent of all antibiotic prescriptions are not needed.

Unless action is taken, antibiotic resistance will become an ever more serious problem, making common interventions such as hip replacements, caesarean sections, and chemotherapy more complex. 

NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chief Medical Officer Will Taylor says: "When used appropriately antimicrobials are essential to treat serious infections. Yet, the most common winter infections we see such as coughs, colds, sore throats, and flu can often get better on their own without antibiotics.

"Always take your healthcare professionals’ advice on whether you need antibiotics and take them exactly as prescribed. Never save them for later and never share them with others.

"Make friends and family aware of antibiotic resistance and remember that COVID, flu and other viruses do not respond to antibiotics.

"We are working with hospitals and GP practices to reduce prescribing where possible, but we can't do it alone. This is why we are urging patients to work with us to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use."

Additional information about the WAAW 2022 campaign can be found here.