“The more and more we use antibiotics unnecessarily, the less effective they will become. A world without effective antibiotics is not one we would wish on future generations.” – Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
Antibiotics, once considered a miracle of modern medicine, could be contributing to a future global health crisis. That’s one of the messages in a recent report from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Handle with Care: Preserving Antibiotics Now and Into the Future.
Pointing to the widespread use of antibiotics, and the subsequent spread of antibiotic resistance, the report estimates that antibiotic-resistant infections could cause 10 million deaths a year globally by 2050, more than the current annual worldwide deaths from cancer.
Knowing these dangers, and the role physicians can play in reducing antibiotic use, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada (AMMI) have jointly released a new policy on antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
“Physicians and medical learners can play an important role in preventing antimicrobial resistance, and this policy will help guide them.”
– Dr. Gigi Osler, CMA president
The new policy directs physicians and patients to only use antibiotics for conditions that are clinically infectious and to prevent infections through hygiene, vaccinations and appropriate use of alternate therapies.
It also urges governments to review the Canadian Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System, so it can be scaled up to provide national, standardized AMR reporting metrics and antimicrobial usage rates.
“This policy will help physicians and other health professionals combat AMR and calls on governments at all levels to address this issue from an institutional, programmatic, pharmaceutical and a health care perspective.” – Dr. Todd Hatchette, president of AMMI Canada
In addition to this new policy, the CMA is also tackling antimicrobial resistance through its ongoing support for Choosing Wisely Canada. Choosing Wisely is a national voice committed to reducing unnecessary treatments in health care, and the CMA has provided support and funding since its creation five years ago.