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With more bacteria demonstrating full or partial resistance to antimicrobial agents in recent years, Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, and Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, are calling on Jamaicans to take disease prevention more seriously.

During the launch of World Antibiotic Awareness Week at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries in New Kingston on November 13, both Ministers stressed that Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) by bacteria in humans, presents a widespread and complex threat to global health and universal health coverage, of which Jamaicans need to be more aware.

“Internationally, an estimated 700,000 human deaths are attributed to AMR annually, with a projected economic impact of US$100 trillion by the year 2050,” Mr. Shaw said.

He added that AMR is being used in farming, which harms humans after they consume animals and makes them more resistant to antimicrobial agents.

“Prevention of AMR in farming is critical to human health, as well as to food safety, food security, animal health and animal welfare. Antimicrobials are used around the world to control and treat infections in animals and humans, but their overuse and misuse puts their efficacy at risk,” the Minister noted.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister said one of the important advances in public health was the discovery of the first antibiotic penicillin, but changes have occurred and there is AMR, which needs to be addressed.

“It really requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach, starting with public education. With guidance from organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health, Jamaica is taking a multi-sectoral approach to tackling the challenge,” he said.

Dr. Tufton noted that the Ministry of Health is collaborating with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the University of the West Indies and other government and non-government agencies, to tackle AMR.

“There is in place a technical working group on AMR. The technical working group has drafted a national plan on AMR, informed by the template of The Global Action Plan on AMR. The draft national plan on AMR is now being considered by stakeholders, including the Ministries of Health and Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries,” the Minister noted.

World Antibiotics Week is globally observed between November 12 and 16 under the theme: ‘Antibiotic Stewardship: A Call to Action’.

It is geared towards raising awareness and promoting antimicrobial stewardship, encouraging responsible use of antibiotics by farmers and food processors and raising awareness at the community level on antimicrobial resistance.