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AMR Patients and Family

If you are someone currently suffering from a resistant infection or know someone who, is this section aims to address some of the key questions you may have and to provide information that improves your care. For patients it is important to understand what is happening and what steps you can take to protect yourself during and after treatment. Family and friends have perhaps an even more crucial role in advocating for the patient when he or she may not be able to, and they can watch for warning signs.

What you can do

The discovery of antibiotic drugs revolutionised 20th century medicine; today, we use antibiotics at a large scale to treat bacterial infections.  Antibiotics are equally used to reduce the risk of infection in the case of surgical interventions, but also for patients undertaking chemotherapy or dialysis. However, antibiotics are sometimes misprescribed to treat viral infections, especially in the absence of a quick diagnostic test, despite being inactive against viruses. But their use in humans is only the tip of the iceberg because in animals, antibiotics are not just used with the purpose to treat infections, but are given regularly for preventative reasons, and, in some countries, as growth promoters to increase productivity.

Since their discovery, and even when used appropriately, antibiotics have become increasingly ineffective as bacteria have developed mechanisms to adapt to these drugs, becoming resistant and harder to kill. Some bacteria are inactive on certain kinds of antibiotics by natural means. Others can become resistant due to gene mutations or due to antibiotic-resistance genes transfer from pathogenic bacteria. As a general rule, the more antibiotics are used, the less effective they become.

Every year resistant infections claim at least 700,000 lives, which is a conservative estimate due to the fact that this type of data is hardly accessible in some countries and there is no surveillance system in place at the international level.

Antibiotic resistance is global public health threat, which makes infectious diseases, such as gonorrhea or pneumonia, more difficult to treat. If you or your dear one suffers from a resistant infection, then you/they would need stronger, more expensive medication (second- or third- line therapy). At the same time, the length of your/their therapy might increase. You/they might not recover as quickly as expected. However, in cases where there is no response to the therapy, the condition of the patient will get worse and other health issues might occur, such as sepsis.

Sepsis, also known as septicemia, is caused when your immune system is overexerted when fighting an infection.

If you or your dear one shows such symptomatology, please urgently seek medical attention.

Sources: WebMD

FAQ

FAQ PAGE

How can I stay safe while travelling?

No matter where you travel to, there are several general guidelines you should follow. For more specific advice and information visit our travel advice page.

  • Make sure all vaccines are up to date
  • Ask your health care professional if you could benefit from any vaccines specific to your destination country
  • Always use safe sexual practices
  • Maintain good hygiene; wash your hands often and especially prior to eating
  • Learn about ways to treat and prevent common travel-associated illnesses such as travelers’ diarrhea
  • Drink only bottled water
  • Avoid eating street food, particularly meat; use your judgement; if a restaurant or food vendor looks unclean your safest option is to eat packaged foods or stick to restaurants that have clear health and safety standards
  • Avoid eating meat in countries where antibiotics are still used incorrectly in animal husbandry
  • If you become sick while on vacation or after returning home, make sure you seek medical attention and let your healthcare provider know what countries you have been travelling in

If AMR has already been an emerging issue for a long time, why are governments taking so long to act?

There are a number of reasons why governments are slow to react to AMR. For one, AMR is a very complex issue due to its global and multisectoral nature and simple national policy cannot have a strong effect on it. Furthermore, even if there is political will, the public has yet to seize the AMR issue wholeheartedly and demand concrete action from their governments. (Wellcome Trust Fund, 2019).