Dr. Terry Wuerz inspires solutions in the realm of healthcare. Serving as an Adult Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine physician at the University of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, his focus centers on enhancing the utilization of antibiotics within the broader health system.
In addressing the crucial issue of antibiotic usage, Dr. Wuerz highlights the important question: How can we employ antibiotics judiciously to benefit not only individual patients but the entire healthcare system? Citing international data suggesting that 30-50% of antibiotic prescriptions may be unnecessary, he underscores the gravity of the situation.
The concept of ‘unnecessary’ antibiotics can be divided into two key domains—prolonged regimens and application in non-bacterial infections such as viral or other organisms. Prolonged regimens, often characterized by doctors erring on the side of caution, contribute to a concerning trend. Meanwhile, the use of antibiotics for non-bacterial infections like viral bronchitis or influenza proves ineffectual and potentially harmful.
Contrary to the perception that excess medications pose no harm, Dr. Wuerz points out a startling reality. In 2019, an estimated 5 million deaths were attributed to antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) infections, with a quarter directly resulting from antibiotic-resistant strains. Alarming predictions by a UN report suggest that by 2050, 10 million deaths could be directly linked to AMR infections, paralleling the anticipated toll of cancer.
Addressing the misconception that AMR is predominantly a foreign concern, Dr. Wuerz sheds light on the 5,400 deaths associated with AMR in Canada in 2018. He emphasizes that AMR is not a distant future threat but a current menace affecting patients within our healthcare facilities.
While acknowledging the vital role antibiotics play in treating life-threatening infections, Dr. Wuerz underscores the double-edged nature of antibiotics. Their misuse, especially in non-bacterial infections, can lead to adverse effects, including the development of antimicrobial-resistant strains.
The repercussions of AMR infections are severe—prolonged hospital stays, costlier and harder-to-obtain medications, and an elevated mortality rate. The work of the Manitoba AMR Alliance aims to increases awareness, information and strategic studies.
This call for awareness extends beyond physicians to patients, urging them to be empowered advocates in their healthcare journey. Dr. Wuerz encourages patients to pose critical questions to their providers, including the necessity of antibiotics and the likelihood of a viral infection. The Manitoba AMR Alliance, through ongoing initiatives and the opportunity to pledge antibiotic stewardship, seeks to cultivate a collective consciousness surrounding this critical issue.
Antimicrobial Awareness Week, spanning from November 18-24th, is accentuated by the Go Blue campaign illuminating landmarks across Canada on November 24th. For more information, visit the Manitoba AMR Alliance website: https://manitobaamr.ca/ #GoBlueforAMR
Pictures of the Esplanade Riel lit up blue from November 24, 2023