LSTM’s Dr Adam Roberts contributes to Change the Course report released at start of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week

News article 18 Nov 2020
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Agar letters - Photo: Ms Issra Bulgasim & Ms Ellie Allman

LSTM’s Dr Adam Roberts, Reader in Antimicrobial Chemotherapy & Resistance and LSTM's lead for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), is a member of a task force which contributed to an independent report commissioned by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, released at the start of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020 (WAAW).

The report outlines key steps that individuals can take to contribute to the response against AMR. Even though the world is in the midst of a pandemic caused by a virus, for which antibiotics do not work, AMR is still ever present and may well be affected by the response to COVID-19. It continues to increase the likelihood that once effective treatments for infectious diseases, such as antibiotics, no longer work.

The current coronavirus pandemic has been extremely effective at highlighting the fragility within healthcare systems and what happens when we have a single untreatable disease able to spread easily from person to person. We must take steps now to ensure we do not reach a situation where we have multiple untreatable diseases circulating within our population.

The report outlines key actions that individuals can take, which collectively will keep AMR on the national and international political agendas and will prompt citizens and businesses to focus on their personal use of antibiotics, antibiotic use within supply chains, and how these could be reduced. 

Dr Roberts comments: “Whilst there are national, and international scale, responses to AMR that are currently being undertaken or discussed, there is action that individuals can take now including simply talking about AMR. It may be surprising to people just how many of their family and friends have been affected by AMR; for example, have you ever had the course of antibiotic you are taking changed? This could be because they weren’t working as a consequence of the bacterial pathogen being antibiotic resistant.”

An example of the discussion around AMR was highlighted in a recent blog by Dr Roberts for the RSTMH. He continues: “Engaging with AMR now and understanding just how important antibiotics are to our society will enable us to be predictive in how we cope with AMR in the future rather than reactive as we have had to be with COVID-19”.

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week runs from 18 to 24 November and is aimed at raising awareness globally and there are many initiatives, webinars and activities across multiple social media platforms where individuals can learn more about the topic and engage with it.