Statement from Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

OTTAWA, ON, Nov 24, 2022 /CNW/ – From November 18 to 24, 2022, we recognized the annual World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW). This year’s campaign called for cross-sectoral collaboration to preserve the efficacy of these important medications and to strengthen preventive measures addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

AMR is already having a significant burden on human health, our health care system, and the economy.

Over 14,000 deaths in Canada in 2018 were associated with resistant infections. Of these, 5,400 deaths were directly attributable to AMR. In 2018, AMR cost the Canadian healthcare system about $1.4 billion and reduced Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) by an estimated $2 billion.

It is a complex issue that requires a One Health approach that recognizes the interconnections between humans, animals, plants, and their shared environment. One Health promotes a whole-of-society approach by incorporating human medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, agri-food production and environmental protection in order to develop programs and policies to effectively address current challenges and achieve better health outcomes.

Using a One Health approach also reminds us of the importance of monitoring the changes in our climate and its effects on serious issues such as AMR. No one is immune to climate change or AMR and both of these crises affect communities unevenly. Like COVID-19, some face greater risk of exposure and are more vulnerable to serious health outcomes. In our fight against AMR, we need to think beyond human health, and consider our shared environment with a special focus on equity.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with partners at the local, national and global level to take increased and expedited action on AMR and to preserve the efficacy of the drugs we rely on every day.

Priorities include building pan-Canadian leadership, securing access to new antimicrobials, and preserving the effectiveness of existing and new antimicrobials.

Delivering on these priorities requires that we provide relevant and accurate information to stakeholders, researchers, healthcare practitioners, producers and policymakers to guide research, policies and actions on new and emerging AMR and antimicrobial use trends.

In Canadaantimicrobial use in humans continues to decrease which is good news, however inappropriate prescribing is still common.

Data from the National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey revealed that nearly 23% of prescriptions for antibiotics in Canadian healthcare facilities were inappropriate, due to wrong antimicrobial choice, dosage, administration route and/or duration.

It is important to know the dangers and be aware of what we can do today to prevent AMR. As individuals, we can combat AMR by making wise choices and learning about the responsible use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs. Here are three essential steps:

  1. Use antibiotics only when necessary: One of the most important things we can do to prevent AMR is to use antibiotics only when needed. That means not using them to treat colds or other viral illnesses — which antibiotics are not designed to treat.
  2. Prevent infections and reduce spread: We can all help to control AMR by preventing infection and spread of disease in the first place. That means washing our hands well and often, staying away from others when we are sick and likewise avoiding close contact with people when they are sick.
  3. Reduce the risk of infection and prevent severe illness and complications from getting vaccinated: Vaccines reduce the risk of infection as well as help to prevent serious illness or complications that could lead to increased use of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections.

Let’s all do our part to preserve the effectiveness of antimicrobials and to prevent AMR.

Dr Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer

SOURCE Health Canada

For further information: Contacts: Media Relations, Public Health Agency of Canada, 613-957-2983, [email protected]

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