Tower and other landmarks to go blue for worldwide antibiotics campaign

Some of Lancashire and South Cumbria’s most recognisable landmarks will be lit up in blue as part of a campaign to keep medicines working.

Blackpool Tower will go blue as part of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-24 November), a global campaign that highlights the importance of using medicines correctly to ensure they remain effective. Also turning blue will be the Hoad Monument near Ulverston, Barrow Town Hall and the Ashton Memorial in Lancaster’s Williamson Park.

Antimicrobials are agents – such as antibiotics – used to prevent, control and treat infectious diseases, but they are becoming increasingly ineffective.

NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) – which plans and buys health services across the region – is working hard to raise awareness of the issue of antimicrobial resistance, both with healthcare providers and through wider projects such as education of young people via schools.

Andrew White, chief pharmacist for the ICB, said: “Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial agents. As a result of drug resistance, antibiotics and other agents become ineffective and infections become difficult or impossible to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.

“This is happening here and now and is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today. Misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is accelerating the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance worldwide.

“Here in Lancashire and South Cumbria, data shows our prescribing rates are the seventh highest out of 42 ICB areas in the country. Furthermore, worryingly the data shows that rather than reducing the number of antibiotics prescribed, we are prescribing more and more.

“That is why it is so important we all do what we can do reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics. If we all play our part we can help save millions of lives, preserve antimicrobials for generations and secure the future from drug-resistant diseases.”

Dr Arif Rajpura, Blackpool Council director of public health, said: “This is an important public health initiative aimed at encouraging the responsible use of antimicrobial medicines, such as antibiotics to keep medicines working.

“It is important to remember that antibiotics do not treat or prevent viruses, including the one that causes COVID-19. Research has shown that only 10 per cent of sore throats benefit from antibiotic treatment so it’s important to talk to your pharmacist about how to treat your symptoms first before going to the GP.

“It is vital we prevent antibiotics from getting into the environment. Always take any unused antibiotics to the pharmacy for safe disposal, don’t throw them down the toilet or in the bin.

“Washing hands properly, especially before eating, is the single best way of preventing the spread of infections.”

Dr Will Morton, consultant in health protection for the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Antibiotics are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis, but inappropriate use or overuse will mean they stop working against life-threatening conditions. Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk of developing infections which in turn cannot be easily treated with antibiotics.

“Antibiotics work by killing bacteria so they won’t help relieve the symptoms of cold, flu or COVID-19 or treat these viral illnesses. Please trust your healthcare professional, take antibiotics only as prescribed, never share with others and don’t save for later.”

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week is a global campaign led by the World Health Organisation that is celebrated annually to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance and encourage best practices among the public, healthcare providers and policymakers.

This year, the theme of World Antibiotic Awareness Week is ‘preventing antimicrobial resistance together’.

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