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World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW)
Worldwide initiative against antibiotic resistance

This year's World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) of the World Health Organization (WHO) will take place in the week from 18 to 24 November 2019. With the annual global campaign week in November, the organizers want to raise awareness of the global problem of increasing resistance to antibiotics and promote tactics to prevent its emergence and spread. It is not without reason that the week runs under the heading: “Handling antibiotics with care”.

And this year’s WAAW slogan reads as follows: “Think twice. Seek advice”. The imprudent, excessive and sometimes even unnecessary use of antibiotics is a major cause of the development of resistance.

AMR: a global emergency

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has long evolved into a global emergency. After all, resistant bacteria do not stop at borders and do not spare those regions with high hygienic and medical standards. Accordingly, all of us are confronted with this serious problem.

Figures from the U.S. show how dramatic this problem is already: every year, at least two million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria [2]. The direct consequences of this cause 35,000 deaths annually [1], about 100,000 of these patients in the U.S. die from the complications of the infections [2].

According to current survey data, things are not looking any better in Europe: every year, the direct consequences of infections with bacteria resistant to antibiotics claim 33,100 people’s lives [3]. In addition, multidrug-resistant (MDR) pathogens lead to 874,500 DALYs [3]. One DALY—disability-adjusted life year—can be thought of as one lost year of "healthy" life [4]. The sum of DALYs across the population can be interpreted as the burden of disease.

In total, MDR infections account for as many deaths and DALYs as caused by influenza, tuberculosis and AIDS combined [3]. People in healthcare facilities such as clinics and nursing homes are particularly at risk. Throughout Europe, 8.9 million infections with multidrug-resistant pathogens occur every year [5].

However, not only the number of cases itself is worrying, but also the rapid increase in MDR infections. In Europe, infections with resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae increased sixfold between 2007 and 2015 [3], while the number of deaths from resistant Escherichia coli bacteria quadrupled over the same period [3].

Former MDR patient supports others

Vanessa Carter had to find out what it means to be affected by an MDR infection and what effects this has on all areas of daily life. In 2004, the South African entrepreneur had a serious car accident in Johannesburg and suffered severe injuries. This was followed by repeated in-patient treatments over several years, during which Vanessa became infected with MDR bacteria.

Healthy again, the South African decided to help other MDR patients on the basis of what she had learned through her own painful experiences: in 2013, she established the Internet platform Healthcare Social Media South Africa [6], offering courses that enable patients to obtain qualified information about the right treatment. At the heart of her commitment is the education and support of MDR patients, allowing them to be more involved in the management, which Carter considers essential. Today, she is a scientifically recognised expert on MDR and gives lectures—only recently at this year's International Conference on Prevention & Infection Control (ICPIC) in Geneva [7, 8].

Empowering patients

HARTMANN and its BODE SCIENCE CENTER also aim to empower patients through comprehensive education and information (article on patient empowerment)—to raise patients' awareness of the importance of hand hygiene and when and how it is best carried out. The hands of staff and patients—as most important transmission path—must be disinfected regularly, because disinfectants are also effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance threatens us all—so take part in WAAW. Information on WAAW can be found at and



World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW)

Infographic: World Antibiotic Awareness Week from 18 to 24 November 2019




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1. (Accessed on 5 November 2019)
2. (Accessed on 5 November 2019)
3. Cassini A. et al. Attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life-years caused by infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the EU and the European Economic Area in 2015: a population-level modelling analysis. Lancet Infect Dis 2019; 19: 56 – 66.
5. Suetens C. et al. Prevalence of healthcare-associated infections, estimated incidence and composite antimicrobial resistance index in acute care hospitals and long-term care facilities: results from two European point prevalence surveys, 2016 to 2017. Eurosurvelliance 2018.
6. (Accessed on 25 October 2019)
7. Patient Participation Platform, 11 September 2019
8. Empowering patients to participate as equal partners in IPC, 12 September 2019