Doctors Urged to be Prudent When Prescribing Antibiotics

Photo: Donald De La Haye Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Sancia Bennett Templer, addresses the launch of Antibiotic Awareness Week on November 14 at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Regional Headquarters, St. Andrew.

Story Highlights

  • Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Sancia Bennett Templer, is calling on healthcare professionals to play their part in reducing antibiotic resistance by only prescribing and dispensing antibiotics when they are needed, and in accordance with current guidelines.
  • Identified as one of the most significant threats to public health in recent history, antibiotic (antimicrobial) resistance is the ability of a microorganism, such as bacterium, virus and some parasites, to prevent antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials from working against it.
  • Antibiotic Awareness Week is being observed from November 13 to 19 under the theme ‘Seek Advice from a qualified professional before taking antibiotics’.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Sancia Bennett Templer, is calling on healthcare professionals to play their part in reducing antibiotic resistance by only prescribing and dispensing antibiotics when they are needed, and in accordance with current guidelines.

“The ripple effect of antibiotic resistance is enormous, as when medications do not work as they should, the treatment process takes longer, which results in longer hospital stay and increased hospital costs. This can also result in the increased economic burden on families and the society, and may even lead to disability and death,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Bennett Templer was speaking at the launch of Antibiotic Awareness Week on Tuesday (November 14) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Regional Headquarters in St. Andrew.

Identified as one of the most significant threats to public health in recent history, antibiotic (antimicrobial) resistance is the ability of a microorganism, such as bacterium, virus and some parasites, to prevent antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials from working against it.

As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others, thereby increasing the prevalence of resistant bacteria in humans, animals, plants and the environment.

The Ministry of Health’s National Surveillance Unit received 196 reports of multidrug-resistant organism infections in 2016. The medical diagnoses related to these multidrug-resistant organisms include urinary tract infections, bronchopneumonia, burns to the body, surgical procedures and wound infections.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than 400,000 people develop multidrug-resistant tuberculosis each year, and dug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria.

Mrs. Bennett Templer is urging players in the agriculture sector to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to promote and apply good practices at all stages of production and processing of foods from animal and plant sources.

Members of the public are advised to follow the prescribed dosage of the medication by public health officials; refrain from sharing antibiotics with friends or family members, and to follow the advice of the medical officer to use other types of medication where an antibiotic is not needed for treatment.

Antibiotic Awareness Week is being observed from November 13 to 19 under the theme ‘Seek Advice from a qualified professional before taking antibiotics’.

It seeks to promote responsible use of antibiotics among medical practitioners and members of the public in order to combat antimicrobial resistance.

The week of activities includes an Agriculture Day on November 16 at the Juici Patties Veranda, Clarendon Park; and a breakfast event at the Marriot Hotel in New Kingston and a Medical Symposium at the UWI’s Faculty of Medical Science on November 17.

The symposium will be addressed by Dr. Arjun Srinivasan from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who will present on the multidrug-resistant gonorrhoea disease.

Antibiotic Awareness Week is organised by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries; Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO); the University of the West Indies and the National Health Fund (NHF).

The launch included a forum featuring presentations by representatives from the UWI Microbiology Department and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries on the causes, spread and measures to prevent antibiotic resistance.

JIS Social