Pharmacists top the professions committing to become Antibiotic Guardians after making 22% of the total pledges.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats to public health with the latest figures showing the number of patients across the European Union infected by resistant bacteria is increasing.

To help raise visibility of the growing problem, Public Health England (PHE) launched the Antibiotic Guardian initiative in 2014.

Members of the public, students and educators, farmers, the veterinary and medical communities and professional organisations are being asked to pledge to make better use of antibiotics to prevent them becoming obsolete.

Almost 20,000 people have already pledged to become Antibiotic Guardians with PHE aiming to build on its success by scoring 100,000 signatures by March 2016.

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), said pharmacists can play a key role in the campaign.

“Community pharmacy teams are in a unique position to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and the importance of slowing down resistance to keep antibiotics effective for future generations.

“As the gatekeepers to medicines in primary care and with 1.6 million visits to a pharmacy every day, pharmacy teams have more regular contact with patients and local communities than any other healthcare professionals and as such they are ideally placed to proactively encourage the public, as well as other healthcare professionals, to become Antibiotic Guardians,” he said.

PHE has produced a number of resources to support local campaigns and social media drives that can be used by community pharmacy teams.

Buxton added: “Pharmacy has already demonstrated it is behind the campaign and is leading by example by being the profession who has the highest number of Antibiotic Guardians; 22% of pledges made by Antibiotic Guardians are from the pharmacy profession.

“I look forward to seeing pharmacy teams continuing to help Public Health England achieve their campaign goal of reaching 100,000 Antibiotic Guardian pledges by 31st March 2016.”

In an additional drive to raise awareness of the growing problem, European Antibiotic Awareness Day has been running each November since 2008.

This year the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the World Antibiotic Awareness Week (16 to 22 November 2015) to increase visibility of this vital issue on a global scale.