Raising Awareness: Improving Use of Antimicrobials

Posted On: November 13, 2020

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) 2020 is kicking off on Wednesday, November 18. Antimicrobials can save lives and are critical tools for treating infections, including those that can lead to sepsis. However, any time antimicrobials are used—in people, animals, or crops—they can lead to unintended consequences, including contributing to the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR, also known as antibiotic resistant, or AR).

Sustaining antimicrobial stewardship efforts is critical, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. This WAAW, spread the word about the importance of improving antimicrobial prescribing and use to:

  • Effectively treat infections
  • Protect patients from harms caused by unnecessary and inappropriate use
  • Combat AR

As in previous years, TATFAR teamed up to raise awareness to improve appropriate therapeutic use of antimicrobial drugs in medical and veterinary communities. Take a look below for activities from TATFAR members Canada, European Union (EU), and the United States (U.S.), and check their websites for more information on how you can get involved.

Participate in the Global Twitter Storm on Wednesday, November 18, from 9 to 10 AM EST using #AntibioticResistance and #WAAW. Share resources, answer questions, and join the global discussion on antibiotic use and AMR!

When a patient needs antimicrobials, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and AMR. Improving the way healthcare professionals and veterinarians prescribe antimicrobials, and the way we take antimicrobials, helps keep us healthy, helps fight AMR, and ensures that these life-saving antimicrobials will be available for future generations.

Canadian Efforts

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) leads Canada’s international and domestic response on AMR. PHAC brings together various federal departments, human and animal health, agriculture, and agri-food sectors, as well as provinces and territories, to align efforts and identify collaborative opportunities to combat AMR. Since 2010, PHAC has collaborated with national stakeholders on their efforts to increase awareness during WAAW.

In Canada, the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCCID) leads Antibiotic Awareness Week (AAW). With funding from PHAC, NCCID brings together several national and regional leaders in the areas of public health, quality healthcare, antibiotic and antimicrobial stewardship, patient safety, and infection prevention and control.

The Government of Canada also ensures that the federal research funding priorities are aligned. Between 2014-2015 and 2018-2019, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) invested more than $125M through investigator-driven and priority-driven funding in strengthening research in areas such as antimicrobial discovery, target identification, alternative therapies, diagnostics, surveillance, and stewardship.

CIHR is a founding member and major funder of the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR)—an international collaboration of 28 member states aimed at coordinating research in AMR to achieve long-term reductions in resistance levels and better public health outcomes. Canada is also leading the development of the JPIAMR Virtual Research Institute, a global virtual network of scientists that increases AMR research coordination and facilitate knowledge exchange and capacity development across the globe.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer released a Spotlight Report in June 2019, Handle with Care: Preserving Antibiotics Now and Into the Future. This report highlights the sociocultural drivers behind antibiotic prescribing practices and antibiotic use. PHAC’s awareness materials for WAAW align with messaging in the report, focusing on responsible antimicrobial use and stewardship practices from both the prescriber and patient perspectives. With support from the Government of Canada, Choosing Wisely Canada recently published the second edition of its Cold Standard toolkit to address the management of respiratory tract infections with considerations of COVID-19 and virtual care.

Canada’s federal departments will promote awareness messaging and materials via social media during WAAW. For more information on AMR, please follow these Government of Canada social media accounts:




European Union Efforts & European Antibiotic Awareness Day

The European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) is an annual European public health initiative that takes place on November 18 to raise awareness about the threat to public health of AMR and the importance of prudent antimicrobial use. The latest data confirms that across the European Union the number of patients infected by resistant bacteria is increasing and that AMR is a major threat to public health.

Find activities on the EAD website.

Find us online on the official EAAD social media channels:

United States Efforts

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Global Affairs

Now more than ever, we need to address critical public health threats and ensure we have the ability to prevent infections before they occur and treat infections when they arise. Antibiotics are a vital public health tool, protecting the health of both humans and animals. The availability of safe and effective antibiotics underlies numerous medical and public health advances and the emergence and spread of AR threatens to undo this progress, at enormous human and economic cost.

This World Antimicrobial Awareness Week’s important message is to “handle antimicrobials with care,” and the United States continues its commitment and leadership to combat AR. The United States recently released the second National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, 2021-2025. With this renewed action plan, the United States is committed to accelerating efforts to combat the emergence, spread, and impact of AR using a One Health approach, recognizing the interconnectedness between the health of people, animals, plants, and the environment. We look forward to implementing the plan and have already begun building capacity to achieve the ambitious goals we have set forth.

The United States will also serve as chair of the Global Health Security Agenda Antimicrobial Resistance Action Package, beginning in November 2020. We will continue the incredible work done by Uganda, the previous chair, and build capacities to combat AR within our country and partner countries to unite against AR around the world.

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week button

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week (USAAW) is an annual, one-week observance that raises awareness about the importance of appropriate antibiotic use and the threat of AR. A major factor contributing to the emergence of AR—one of the largest public health challenges of our time—is the use of antibiotics, which are among the most frequently prescribed medicines in human and animal medicine.

CDC encourages partners to help spread the word about the importance of appropriate antibiotic use and to get involved!

Everyone has a role to play in fighting antibiotic resistance and protecting these important drugs for when they are needed most. We must all continue to take responsible action to protect antibiotics so that they remain effective for people and animals—using the right antibiotic, at the right time, dose, and duration.