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A Greater Health Threat than COVID-19 Emerging?

Coronavirus cases exceed two million worldwide

With over 5 million deaths worldwide, COVID-19 has imposed a significant burden on societies and healthcare systems around the world.

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As we continue to address the impact of COVID-19, there is an even greater public health threat that must be tackled, AMR. The importance of hygiene’s role in breaking the chain of infection has been demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, GHC experts fear that we are witnessing hygiene lethargy as we transition into a post-COVID world, exacerbating the threat of AMR.

Last month the WHO launched its report on the state of the world’s hand hygiene, outlining the importance of hand hygiene in preventing infections and reducing the burden of AMR through extending the life of antimicrobials (e.g. antibiotics). The GHC welcomes this increased focus on hand hygiene and is supporting this year’s WAAW by focusing its activities on reducing the need for antibiotics through encouraging improved hand hygiene to prevent the spread of infections.

GHC spokesperson, Sabiha Essack, Professor from the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa comments, “Responsible hygiene such as handwashing is an effective intervention for preventing infections, helping to eliminate the need for antimicrobials (e.g. antibiotics). Behaviors such as handwashing have the potential to reduce disease transmission, as experienced with COVID-19 and should be encouraged post-pandemic”.

The unnecessary use of antibiotics has expedited the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria. Common infections which are unsuccessfully treated due to antimicrobial-resistant bacteria attribute to over 700 000 deaths per year worldwide and are projected to be associated with the deaths of 10 million people per year by 2050. Adopting everyday hygiene practices can reduce the risk of common infections by up to 50% and offers a framework for reducing antibiotic prescribing, minimizing opportunities for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to form.

With the occurrence of infectious disease outbreaks more likely in the years up to 2030, we must adopt lasting hygiene behaviors to protect ourselves and loved ones against the threat of emerging infectious diseases, reduce the burden of AMR, and future-proof antimicrobials, such as antibiotics, for years to come.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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