Pledge your support to help keep antibiotics working


This year during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-24 November) the Public Health Agency (PHA) is asking everyone to pledge their support to help keep antibiotics working.

Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. It is important to remember that antibiotics do not treat infections caused by viruses, and when they are not used appropriately, bacteria can become resistant. As a result, some antibiotics are becoming less effective against the bacterial infections they were designed to treat. Infections caused by resistant bacteria can be very difficult to tackle, can be extremely serious and may even lead to death.

Dr Judith Ewing, Consultant at the PHA, said: “Antimicrobial resistance or AMR remains a serious public health threat and protecting essential medicines for the future relies on all of us acting now. We are asking everyone to pledge their support to help keep antibiotics working.

“Antibiotics should not be used to prevent or treat any viral infections, unless bacterial infections are also present.

“In recent years, very few new antibiotics have been discovered. We need to protect the antibiotics we have to ensure they continue to work now and in the future.

“If we continue to use antibiotics at the current rate, we could face a return to the days before antibiotics, when people died from simple infections and where the risk of infection made routine surgery life-threatening.

“We need health professionals and the public to pledge to do their bit to help keep antibiotics working. Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to educate and prescribe responsibly and the public can do their bit by not demanding antibiotics for viral infections and taking the advice of their pharmacist or doctor.

“Everyone has a role to play in protecting antibiotics and their future depends on all of us acting together, please pledge your support today.”

For more info on antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, visit

Ways you can play your part:

  1. Most simple infections clear up on their own. Over-the-counter medicines may help you to manage your symptoms.
  2. If your symptoms are a new continuous cough, or a high temperature, or a loss or change in your sense of taste or smell, you could have COVID-19. Stay at home and arrange to have a test as soon as possible. Visit for information on how to book a test. Stopping the spread can help save lives. Make sure to follow all of the public health advice on COVID-19 which can be found at
  3. If you are worried about your symptoms, make sure to contact your doctor if you need advice. Don’t just turn up at the surgery; your symptoms might be COVID-19 and you need to help stop the spread of the virus.
  4. Take your doctor’s advice and don’t demand antibiotics.
  5. If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic make sure you take it according to your doctor’s instructions.
  6. Never share antibiotics with anyone else.
  7. Don’t take antibiotics that haven’t been prescribed for you.
  8. Antibiotics don’t work against the flu or COVID-19, but getting vaccinated can help. Learn more about flu at: and learn  more about COVID-19 vaccine at
  9. Remember, antibiotics are essential medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria and can be life-saving.

Research has shown that a continued rise in antibiotic resistance could mean that by 2050 we will see 10 million more people dying worldwide every year from resistant infections. This report can be found at