Opinion Former Article

On European Antibiotic Awareness Day – MRSA Action UK members say everyone has a role to play in helping to prevent infections

MRSA Action UK members know the consequences first hand when the drugs don’t work. We all need healthcare at some point and when we do we want to be reassured that the people who are treating us are competent, compassionate and that the treatment we receive will give us the best possible outcome.

Whether the care is for your new baby or for your elderly parent, you need to be assured that the drugs you are prescribed are effective.

Our charity was founded a decade ago by people who had lost a loved one to MRSA, we were fortunate to have families who did receive treatment for MRSA that worked, but most of our founding members had experienced tragedy when the antibiotics didn’t work. This is why on European Antibiotic Awareness Day we wish to add our voice to call for urgent action to preserve our precious reserves of antibiotics. There has been no new class of antibiotic developed since 1987 and this is worrying.

Conservative estimates place the yearly death toll from resistance to antimicrobial drugs (antibiotics, antivirals and antifungals) at 700,000, with this exploding to 10million in 2050 if current trends continue. The World Health Organisation has reported that the bacteria and viruses responsible for malaria, HIV and TB, among many more, have shown resistance to the drugs commonly used against them.

The £10million Longitude Prize, was chosen by the public to combat rising antimicrobial resistance and will reward an innovator who comes up with a successful diagnostic tool to identify whether an infection requires antibiotics, and if so, which ones. It’s an important piece of the superbug puzzle, but a difficult one, requiring new ideas and specialist knowledge.

Handwashing, however, couldn’t be easier but is sadly often the most elusive piece of a good prevention strategy. So whilst we await innovations and developments in diagnostics and solutions to developing new classes of antimicrobial treatments, we can all play a part with effective hand hygiene, in giving care and in our everyday lives, as healing hands can also be vectors for the spread of bacteria that can be harmful to us all.

Remember everyone can play an important role in decreasing antibiotic resistance:

  • Follow your doctor’s advice when taking antibiotics
  • When possible, prevent infection through vaccination
  • Wash your hands and your children’s hands regularly
  • Don’t self-medicate with antibiotics - always use antibiotics under medical prescription, not using “leftovers” or antibiotics obtained without a prescription
  • Ask your pharmacist about how to dispose of the remaining medicines

Visit the European Antibiotic Awareness Day website for more information: http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/eaad/Pages/Home.aspx


Derek Butler
Chair, MRSA Action UK
07762 741114

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