Professor Colin Garner

Beat the boredom, contact your MP and save lives

Peter Gibson ANTRUK announcements, Coronavirus COVID-19

Professor Colin GarnerAre you wondering how to fill in time during lockdown? Why not help all of us by finding five free minutes during furlough to help prevent the next pandemic from taking your family and friends’ lives. We are simply asking for you to contact your local MP about antibiotic resistance which threatens modern medicine.

We need to fill MP’s postbags and inboxes with letters about one of the world’s biggest health problems. Unchecked, antibiotic resistance could lead to the next pandemic says Professor Colin Garner, our Chief Executive.

We are confident that lockdown has fuelled a passionate interest in health and politics. Now, we must use that momentum to get antibiotic resistance and its risks at the top of the health agenda. After all, it has been rated by some as potentially worse than COVID-19 (1).

Talking about antibiotic resistance

Professor Garner said: “It is estimated that antibiotics have contributed towards extending human life expectancy by as much 20 years. But, the simple fact is some antibiotics are no longer working. Consequently up to 30 people per day in the UK are dying from antibiotic resistant infections. That number will get higher with the World Health Organisation stating that by 2050 10 million people per year globally will perish because of this problem. With decision makers seemingly reluctant to take practical action, we have to make our voice count, now.”

To help create a public groundswell, we have offered a series of tips on how to write an engaging letter to their MP, which also encourages a follow-up call. Among the actions the MP could put their name to, are the creation of a designated cabinet minister for antibiotic resistance. They can also support and legislation to ensure “drug-resistant infection” is written on death certificates where appropriate. This will allow proper records to be kept on mortalities.

Use personal stories

Ronda Windsor who is worried she may succumb to coronavirusPotential writers are also encouraged to put in their own personal stories of the anguish of antibiotic-resistant infections – stories like that of Ronda (pictured), from South London.

Admitted to hospital for surgery to diagnose and treat endometriosis, she endured great pain. She described it as, “a fierce and blazing hot temperature. My body violently erupted into the most horrific and uncontrollable case of the judders. My febrile face ignited into flames! A huge surge of pain raged through every inch of my body, particularly, just below my waist and towards my chest. I was in agony, I had difficulty catching my breath, I honestly believed I was having a heart attack.”

Ronda had contracted a “catheter associated urinary tract infection” which developed into sepsis. Despite life now being a “daily struggle”, she has become a powerful advocate of Antibiotic Research UK’s new Patient Support Service. You can read more about Ronda’s story here.

Professor Garner added: “In what has been a difficult time for the world, we have seen a renewed interest in keeping healthy to avoid contracting infectious diseases. Politicians candidly say that unless their mailbag is full of correspondence around an issue, they are unlikely to take it forward. What could be more important than ensuring our current antibiotics remain effective?

It is my belief that if we seize the initiative, we can make antibiotic resistance as important an issue as global warming and environmentalism. Together, we can protect the health of our and future generations. The onus is on us. Pick up your pen or tap on that keyboard and contact your MP today. Doing so can help save modern medicine and lives.”

Raising awareness

Professor Colin Garner was speaking ahead of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2020 (18-24 November). During the week, events (virtual or otherwise) will raise awareness of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic Research UK is organising its own raft of activity. This includes the Great University Science Quiz (18 November) for students across the UK and the Great British Tea Party which this year invites virtual and bubble gatherings of people to come together and raise funds to find new treatments for antibiotic resistant infections – learn more on our support page.

Antibiotic Research UK is the only charity in the country solely dedicated to combating bacterial drug resistance. You can donate to our cause and get involved with our work in lots of different ways. After you contact your MP, you might want to further support us and help save lives.