This World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week (18-24 November), people in the Black Country are being encouraged to take part in an Antibiotic Amnesty and hand in any old or unused antibiotics.

Antimicrobials, including antibiotics, are medicines used to prevent and treat infections. Antibiotic resistance, where antibiotics become less effective, continues to be one of the biggest health threats facing the world today.

Without effective antibiotics, many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous, as they rely on access to antibiotics that work.

The Antibiotic Amnesty, which runs throughout November, is led locally by NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB) and NHS Birmingham and Solihull ICB and is supported by NHS England (Midlands). This year, the amnesty is being supported by GPs, dental practices and other health services as well as local veterinary practices and universities

During last year’s amnesty, nearly 900 full or part packs of antibiotics were returned to pharmacies across the Midlands for safe disposal.

Donna Cooper, Antimicrobial Stewardship Workstream Lead for NHS Black Country ICB and a member of the Midlands Antibiotic Amnesty Project Team, said: “Antibiotics aren’t a cure for all illnesses – they don’t work against viral infections such as colds or flu, while many mild bacterial infections get better on their own. Using them inappropriately increases the risk of antimicrobial resistance, where the antibiotics become less effective as the bugs learn to protect themselves against them.

“World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week is a great opportunity for us to highlight the importance of using antibiotics correctly. We all have to do our best to preserve the benefits of existing and future antibiotics, which is why we’re running the Antibiotics Amnesty campaign again this year for the third consecutive year, and urging anyone who has any old or unused antibiotics at home to drop them off at their local pharmacy who will dispose of them safely.”

Pharmacies will always accept unwanted medicines from people or households for safe disposal. Medicines returned to a pharmacy are safely stored, collected by a licensed waste contractor and taken for safe disposal by incineration.

To find your local pharmacy visit the NHS website here.

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