Vaccines alone aren't enough to combat AMR, claims new WHO report

25 July 2022 | Monday | News

The Global Hygiene Council (GHC) calls for the use of hygiene practices, such as handwashing, alongside vaccinations to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and reduce the impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Image Source : Public Domain

Image Source : Public Domain

A recent report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) identified vaccines as "highly effective tools in combating AMR". Despite their efficacy, the financial risks and approval processes for vaccine development continue to restrict their use as an immediate solution to the AMR crisis. It was concluded that short-term solutions to prevent resistance must focus on interventions other than vaccines, highlighting the importance of research and investment in other methods of control, including effective infection prevention.

The GHC welcomes this report and advocates the use of hygiene alongside vaccinations in controlling the spread of infections and reducing the impact of AMR. As witnessed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hygiene plays an invaluable role in helping to prevent the spread of infections. Effective hygiene behaviours, such as hand washing, can reduce the risk of transmissible diseases by up to 59%, preventing up to 1 million deaths per year and minimising opportunities for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to form.

AMR has been declared one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity and occurs when bacteria and viruses change over time, becoming resistant to medicines. Each year, resistant bacteria account for almost 5 million deaths worldwide – of which 1.27 million are directly attributed to AMR.

"Alongside vaccination strategies, effective hygiene practices in home and community settings, such as schools and workplaces, are vital interventions for preventing infections and the need for antimicrobials, such as antibiotics – the indiscriminate use of which is a key driver for AMR.", explains Sabiha Essack, GHC spokesperson and Professor from the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. "By adopting simple hygiene practices as part of our daily routines, we can prevent infection and reduce the consumption of antimicrobials and subsequent selection pressure for the evolution and spread of drug-resistant bacteria", she added.

The GHC is calling for immediate action to address the growing burden of AMR by promoting the role of hygiene alongside other important interventions, including vaccinations, and elevating the universal use of hygiene practices where the risk of infection is heightened.

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