GENEVA-Switzerland is launching a public campaign to raise awareness of the proper use of antibiotic medicine which, if overused or misused, can cause bacterial resistance, meaning some conditions could become difficult or even impossible to treat, according to an official statement on other day.

The campaign includes television spots, posters, online advertising and a campaign website in Switzerland’s three official national languages, including German, French and Italian, with slogans equivalent to “use wisely, take precisely.” Also animated figures, including animals and fish, explain the importance of using antibiotics carefully, as well as the potential consequences of resistant bacteria for humans, animals, agriculture and the environment.

The campaign which is expected to run for four years is part of Switzerland’s National Strategy on Antibiotic Resistance that was launched in 2015 and is already producing results. For example, the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine has been halved and uniform prescribing guidelines are now in force throughout Switzerland, according to the statement. These guidelines for medical practitioners define when antibiotics should be used and include information on selecting the appropriate drug, as well as the recommended dosage and length of treatment.

“If the effectiveness of antibiotics is to be maintained, not only are efforts required on the part of professionals, but patients and animal owners also need to use these drugs responsibly,” the official statement said.

It said that surveys show there are still gaps in the public’s knowledge.

With a nationwide campaign “the federal authorities therefore intend to inform the public about the importance of antibiotics, the risks of bacterial resistance and the correct use of these drugs in humans and animals.”

Antibiotics are among the most significant advances in modern medicine and can be used to treat conditions such as pneumonia or septicemia which were often fatal in the past. However, if antibiotics are overused or misused, bacteria develop resistance and the drugs lose their effectiveness.