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World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week

World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week (WAAW), which started on 18 November with the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, takes place this week. Growing antimicrobial resistance is a threat to people, animals, plants and the environment.

That is why this year's theme of the WAAW, which is "Preventing antimicrobial resistance together", calls for cross-sectoral collaboration to preserve the effectiveness of critical antimicrobials.

The Quadripartite organisations – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) announced, this year, the rebranding of WAAW as World AMR Awareness Week.

The antimicrobial resistance, which results from the more or less responsible and reasonable use of antibiotics, is one of the greatest global health challenges of our time, becoming a leading cause of death globally. It is a growing threat to animal and human health and food security worldwide. Antimicrobial resistance requires a comprehensive and cross-sectoral global approach such as One Health.

Fighting antimicrobial resistance is a global endeavour and the One Health approach is used globally. The resistance of bacteria to antibiotics that had been effective, until recently, for treating bacterial infections became a major threat to global public health in the early 21st century. With the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals, bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, which are indispensable to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals. Antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine should be handled with care and administered only when necessary in order to maintain their effectiveness.

Animal breeders and other animal keepers are responsible for implementing biosecurity measures in animal husbandry and for integrated animal care. When these measures are not sufficient to preserve animal health, the antibiotic is administered and used reasonably and responsibly to prevent the risk of antimicrobial resistance to the active substance used in the medicine or the antibiotic. Since antibiotics for treating animals require a veterinary prescription, veterinarians are responsible for giving a diagnosis and prescribing, choosing and administering a suitable medicine to target the pathogen.

Did you know?

Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance was published in 2015. Countries had to adopt national strategies and national action plans. In 2019, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the National "One Health" Strategy for managing Antimicrobial Resistance 2019-2024 and an Action Plan defining priority areas.

The European Antibiotic Awareness Day was first marked in 2008 and, ever since, we have raised awareness of responsible use of antimicrobials for combatting the antimicrobial resistance in animals in Slovenia.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, global antimicrobial use in animals declined by 13% in three years (2017–2019), marking a significant shift in the continuous efforts to preserve the efficacy of these critical medicines.

The data collected under the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) project, which was conducted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), show that the sales of veterinary antimicrobial agents used mainly in food-producing animals in Slovenia decreased by 19% in the 2021–2022 period and by 44.2% in the 2011–2022 period.