When it comes to fighting antimicrobial resistance (AMR), spreading the message is an important part of tackling the issue and community pharmacists are well placed to help get that message across.
We need to make people aware that the over and inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to AMR and also promote stewardship and responsible use.
Because we ARE already seeing resistant bacteria causing problems across the world, including in the UK, and we know as professionals that without antibiotics healthcare would take a huge step backwards.
Without them we can’t treat chest infections and UTIs or ensure that our amazing advancements and lifesaving treatments like transplants, chemotherapy and even childbirth remain safe.
And of course the independent review led by Lord Jim O’Neill on antimicrobial resistance highlighted the global impact: there could be up to 10 million deaths and economic cost of £66 trillion by 2050 unless we act.
As pharmacists we enjoy being part of the fabric of a community and our teams across the country see more than one million people each day. This vital contact can be turned into a key weapon in our armoury in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
So this year, as part of our Antibiotic Guardian campaign, we are asking you to lend us your voice and take the lead in spreading the word and educating the many people you have contact with.
When people come into pharmacies, it is often for advice and they place a great level of trust in the relationships they build with you.
Be it advising on how to self-care/manage for colds and flu, or explaining the problems resistance poses and why we need to act, this is where we have the opportunity to use that bond to encourage a positive behaviour change.
So what can you do?
You’ll likely know about next week's World Antibiotic Awareness Week (14-22 Nov), European Antibiotic Awareness Day, and self-care week already; annual events aiming to raise awareness on how to use antibiotics responsibly.
We’re grateful to the many pharmacies who have supported our Antibiotic Guardian campaign in previous years and we want even more to get on board, promoting the key campaign message to pledge one simple action that can save antibiotics.
If you use social media – either yourself or an account for your pharmacy - please do share and promote the campaign as much as possible online, using #AntibioticGuardian.
Or use your website if you have one - we must take advantage of the brilliant work pharmacists do across as many platforms as possible, not just through the face-to-face links.
This is also an excellent opportunity to use the TARGET tookit, which includes patient leaflets for use by community pharmacists, training resources for staff members, and information on action planning.
We also encourage you to sign up to be an Antibiotic Guardian yourself, choosing a simple pledge and encouraging colleagues to do the same.
By making sure we join up our efforts and get the message across to as many people as possible, we are confident we can promote a positive change and contribute to protecting these vital medicines.
Suggestions for promoting your in-store campaign during World Antibiotic Awareness Week:
- Register your planned activities during WAAW with us. This only takes a few minutes and can include displaying posters, leaflets or signpost patients to the Antibiotic Guardian website.
- Inform customers about Antibiotic Guardian when discussing antibiotics and encourage them to sign up while waiting to collect medicines.
- Display the Antibiotic Guardian community pharmacy pull-out poster. This was delivered to all community pharmacy premises by PSNC in October Community Pharmacy News Magazine.
- Use the TARGET leaflet for every patient that comes into the pharmacy with self-limiting infection symptoms.
- Earn an Antibiotic Guardian Pharmacy Champion badge by completing the Pharmacy EAAD learning campaign.
- Increase your knowledge (and encourage colleagues to do the same) on the role pharmacy team in tackling antibiotic resistance using one or more of the following free resources: https://www.cppe.ac.uk/programmes/l/antibacres-p-01/ or http://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/antimicrobial-resistance/
Finally please do join me and more than 15 other pharmacists and pharmacy technicians for a twitter chat co-hosted by WePharmacists on 15th November on the role/contribution of pharmacy teams in tackling AMR.