Water, sanitation and hygiene services critical to curbing antibiotic ‘quick fix’

on
5 December 2019
WaterAid/ Guilhem Alandry

The rise of drug-resistant bacteria is a global threat that could make simple injuries and illnesses life threatening and routine medical procedures too high-risk to perform.

Addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a multifaceted challenge, but what is often overlooked is reducing the need to use antibiotics. Antibiotics are regularly relied on to treat infections in healthcare facilities and communities that don't have adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Recent reports from the World Bank and Chatham House confirm that unhygienic conditions are a major cause of antibiotic use in low- and middle-income countries, and that WASH improvements are a cost-effective way to reduce this. Practical steps to improve WASH, especially in low-resource settings, could reduce antibiotic use and thereby resistance, making a huge contribution to controlling the spread of AMR.

Read Alison Macintyre, Celina Hanson, Leah Richardson and Mengying Ren's article published on DevPolicy.org, on the critical role of WASH in tackling antibiotic resistance. Alison is Technical Lead for Health at WaterAid Australia, Celina is a Policy Advisor at ReAct, Leah is WaterAid Sweden's WASH and Health Advisor and Mengying is a Policy Advisor at ReAct.