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Families urged to join fight to keep antibiotics working

Scottish families are being urged to join the fight to protect antibiotics for future generations – and stop the spread of superbugs. 

The UK-wide Keep Antibiotics Working campaign, which is part of European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD), encourages kids and parents to use antibiotics more wisely and safeguard them for the future. EAAD takes place on 18 November every year.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria which cause illnesses like pneumonia, urinary tract infections and meningitis change so that they are no longer killed by antibiotics. The campaign is being led in Scotland by the Scottish Antimicrobial Prescribing Group (SAPG), which is based within Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Dr Jacqueline Sneddon, project lead for SAPG, said:

“The threat of antibiotics becoming ineffective against bacteria is a real one. Globally, around 700,000 people a year die due to antibiotic resistant infections. If we continue to use antibiotics when we don’t need to, resistant bacteria could make routine operations like Caesareans, appendix removal and hip replacements life threatening.  Healthcare providers need to change their practices to preserve antibiotics, but patients and the public also have an important role to play.

“Antibiotics might seem like a quick solution when you feel unwell with coughs, colds and flu, but they don’t work for these illnesses and also don’t work for most sore throats and ear infections. Your local community pharmacist can provide advice on the best way to recover from these kinds of infections and this is usually by taking plenty of rest, keeping hydrated and using simple analgesics like paracetamol or ibuprofen. And by not asking your doctor for antibiotics at the first sign of a cold, you can help protect these important medicines for future generations.”

The Keep Antibiotics Working campaign aims to raise awareness about antibiotics through posters and leaflets featuring ‘scary bacteria’ characters. The leaflets, which are available in community pharmacies, GP surgeries and dental surgeries throughout Scotland, provide advice on self-care for infections like coughs and colds, information about the likely duration of these common illnesses and also highlight potentially serious symptoms that require further assessment by a doctor. The campaign is linked to the Antibiotic Guardian pledge campaign, which enables people to commit to tackling antibiotic resistance by agreeing to do one thing to use antibiotics more wisely and safeguard them for future generations. 

You can choose from a range of Antibiotic Guardian pledges at www.antibioticguardian.com.

Dr Sneddon said:

“We all have a part to play in reducing the risk of antibiotic resistance. By acting now, we can protect both ourselves and future generations from the problems that a world without effective antibiotics could bring.”

Find out more about what SAPG is doing for EAAD.