WAAW 2017 Day 5 – A week of antibiotic awareness

Each day during World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW), we have been sharing articles and resources on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and Pharmaceuticals in the environment, summarised here:

Day 1 - What is AMR?

The week began with an introduction to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – how it occurs and what the extent of the problem is.


Whilst recognising that antibiotics are an important part of modern medicine, the environmental and health risks associated with the over-prescription of antibiotics, pollution from pharmaceutical production, and the improper disposal of unused antibiotics cannot be ignored. At HCWH Europe, we work to raise awareness about the health and environmental consequences of AMR, and promote ways to constrain this growing problem.

Day 2 - Antibiotics in food and agriculture 

On day two, the use of antibiotics in agriculture was in the spotlight – food is an often under-recognised pathway of AMR. There are a number of risks associated with the intensive use of antimicrobials in agriculture; drug-resistant strains of microorganisms can be passed on to humans via:

  • Direct contact with animals on farms
  • Processing, transport, or handling of food animals and food
  • The environment (e.g. contamination of water and soil via manure or waste water discharge from plants manufacturing antibiotics) 

Learn more from HCWH Europe’s webinar The (un)recognised pathways of AMR: Air pollution and food and policy overview of both EU and U.S. legislation on antibiotics in food production Food pathways to antimicrobial resistance – A call for international action.

Day 3 - #KeepAntibioticsWorking 

The middle of World Antibiotic Awareness Week coincided with launch event for the 10th European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD),organised and hosted by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) – a recording of the livestream is available online here. We added our commitment to keep antibiotics working (the theme of this years EAAD) with a video pledge:

 In the pledge, Pharmaceuticals Policy Officer Adela Maghear outlines how HCWH Europe works with different stakeholders – health professionals, patients, and policy makers – to ensure that there is an awareness about how pharmaceuticals in the environment can lead to AMR, and an appropriate response in behaviour change and policy. The pledge also calls for the need to take a ‘One Health’, collaborative approach to keeping antibiotics working.

HCWH Europe also shared Reducing Antimicrobial Resistance: How health professionals can help

Day 4 - Pharmaceutical pollution

In the right place, pharmaceuticals save lives and prevent disease, but pharmaceuticals in the environment also represent a global pollution problem - over 631 different pharmaceutical agents or their metabolites have been detected in 71 countries on all continents.

Yesterday, we shared our Safer Pharma campaign video to further explain the problem of pharmaceuticals in the environment and sources of pharmaceutical pollution.

Day 5 – Serious concern about pharmaceuticals in the EU environment 

On the eve of European Antibiotic Awareness Day, a group of twenty organisations – led by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe –sent a declaration to European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, expressing their deep concern about the threat posed by pharmaceuticals in the environment to European citizens, their communities, and the environment.


The consortium of organisations, which is made up of hospitals, health organisations, professional health and student associations, and health and environment NGOs, wrote to the Commissioner to highlight the importance of introducing ambitious legislation in the upcoming Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment (due to be released in early 2018).

The Declaration also highlights the unintended consequences of the release of increasing amounts of pharmaceuticals into the environment on both human and environmental health.

Take a look back at a week of antibiotic awareness:

Find all the HCWH Europe resources mentioned and more on the HCWH Europe resource pages: