The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is to begin implementation of aspects of the draft Jamaica National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Senior Veterinary Specialist in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF), Dr. Suzanne McLennon-Miguel, pointed out that the plan came out of a call to action from a 2016 Caribbean Workshop, which followed the World Animal Health Assembly in 2015 that led to the development of a Global Action Plan.
“The Global Action Plan is aimed at ensuring continuity of successful treatment and prevention of infectious diseases with effective and safe medicines that are quality-assured, used in a responsible way and accessible to all who need them,” she explained. Dr. McLennon-Miguel highlighted that a collective group, including representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health and local representatives, participated in the Caribbean workshop.
Jamaica was represented by persons from the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), MICAF and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Dr. McLennon-Miguel added that the team is now going forward to address the lack of awareness about AMR and spread the information by talking about good agricultural practices and appropriate AMR use.
The Senior Veterinary Specialist explained that under the Jamaica National Development Plan on AMR, MICAF will be looking at five areas.
“We are going to increase the education and public awareness for our staff and our stakeholders, our farmers and our food industry players,” she noted.
Dr. McLennon-Miguel added that the Ministry will be strengthening its monitoring programmes, which include testing of feed and animal tissue of antibiotic residue or contaminants, pesticide residue or pesticide contaminants in feed or animal tissue.
The Senior Veterinary Specialist explained that the Ministry will also be improving veterinary laboratory diagnostic capabilities to detect resistant pathogens, adding that this will facilitate implementation of preventative measures to slow down and stop the resistance.
“We are in the process of drafting an Agriculture Food Chain Monitoring and Surveillance Programme, where we are going to be looking at different livestock throughout a six-year plan,” Dr. McLennon-Miguel said, pointing out that this would begin with poultry, after which the focus would be on pigs, then cattle, fish, sheep and goats and layers (chickens), in terms of their eggs.
The final step, which she described as very important, is the surveillance of antimicrobial use.
“We’ll be going to farmers and we’ll also be going out to the farm stores to see what antimicrobials are on the shelf, how our farmers are using them and giving them guidelines how to sell them and how to use them,” she explained.
Dr. McLennon-Miguel emphasised that antibiotics must be prescribed and that it is important for farmers to know that “once your animal is sick you need veterinary advice because the vets are going to look at the condition and diagnose it”.
“They have the expertise. They are the ones that will prescribe what antimicrobials to use,” she said.
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week was observed from November 18 to 24 under the theme ‘Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance – Handle Antimicrobials with Care’. The Week was marked with a series of activities to increase awareness and understanding of global antimicrobial resistance, through effective communication, education and training.
Antimicrobials are used to destroy or inhibit the growth of microorganisms, especially pathogenic microorganisms.