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Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial Resistance

What is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)?

Antimicrobials is the collective term for medicines that are used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants. These medicines include antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals and antiparasitics.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites, are exposed to antimicrobials and undergo changes overtime, which prevent these medicines from working effectively. As a result, these microorganisms no longer respond to these medicines, making infections harder to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, causing severe illness and even death.


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    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  

Why is AMR a concern?

With new resistance mechanisms emerging and spreading globally, AMR threatens our ability to prevent and treat an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures (from transplants, disease management to surgeries) can become life-threatening. Around the world, this has resulted in more complex treatments, longer hospital stays, higher medical costs, severe illness and even death.

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Source: World Health Organization


How does AMR spread?

AMR occurs naturally over time. However, it is accelerated by the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials across the human, animal and food production sectors. Examples of misuse include taking antibiotics for viral infections such as a cold and flu, and using antibiotics to promote growth in healthy animals.

Antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms are found in people, animals, food and the environment. They can be spread from person to person, and between people, animals and/or the environment. Improper food-handling, poor sanitary conditions and inadequate infection control measures also encourage the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

How AMR Spreads_1.pngWatch a video on AMR by the World Health Organization and click here to learn more about the Antimicrobial Resistance Coordinating Office.

Antibiotic Tales Animated Video

Watch the animated snippet from the "The Antibiotic Tales" comic  by Mr Sonny Liew and Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, to learn why antimicrobials are a precious resource and ways in which you can help to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

Click here to watch the video.

Protecting yourself and your loved ones

An infection occurs when microorganisms which are not usually present invade the body. Infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms are harder to treat as the usual antimicrobials may not work. Instead, stronger antimicrobials must be used, which may be more expensive and may cause further resistance.

AMR places healthcare systems at risk. Without effective antimicrobials to combat and treat infections, vital surgeries, organ transplants and chemotherapy become more life-threatening. This could result in a small wound injury leading to death. Take action by protecting yourself and your loved ones against infections with these simple steps:


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Our hands are in contact with germs, and we use our hands in our daily routine such as eating. Animals are also capable of carrying germs which can cause sickness in humans, and vice versa. Thus, regular hand washing with soap is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get rid of germs, prevent infection and preventing germs from spreading to others.

Follow the Health Promotion Board's eight steps of hand washing to keep healthy:

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Source: Health Promotion Board


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Stay home, do not go to work or school if you are unwell. This helps to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses, and protect the community and our loved ones.

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If you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough, put on a mask when you are around others. If you have a wound and abrasion, make sure they are disinfected and covered to prevent further infection.


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Are your vaccinations up to date? Several infectious diseases are preventable and vaccination strengthens our immunity against these diseases.

Find out more about the recommended vaccines for your age group here.


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Not all illnesses require antibiotics. For instance, antibiotics do not treat viral infections such as the cold, flu and most upper respiratory tract infections.

Follow your doctor's advice:

  • Do not demand for antibiotics from your doctor
  • Only use antibiotics when prescribed by your doctor
  • Follow the recommended dosage and duration of treatment prescribed by your doctor
  • Never share antibiotics with others or use leftover antibiotics
  • Never save antibiotics for later use

To fight viral infections, you need time, not antibiotics. Learn more here.


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Proper food handling and cooking can reduce the risk of infection by harmful microorganisms. The risk of foodborne illnesses can be mitigated by ensuring good hand hygiene, washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before cooking, and cooking food thoroughly to eliminate harmful bacteria.

Learn more about food safety from the Singapore Food Agency's website.


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People and companion animals not only share lives and living spaces, but may also share resistant microorganism. Keep your pet healthy through vaccination, regular parasite and deworming treatment, regular health checks and good husbandry.

Learn more via the National Parks Board's website.














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