This year World Health Day fittingly places focus on drug resistance and the importance of taking action to preserve the centuries old gains made in medicine. The theme "Antimicrobial resistance: no action today, no cure tomorrow" speaks to an urgency that should be within all of us to move to ensure that we take the right steps to secure the health and future of our population. This is an opportunity for us to highlight the important issue of drug resistance and what needs to be done to successfully counter this growing problem. Many useful and effective drugs are being threatened by antimicrobial resistance and so it is important that if we desire to continue to successfully treat illnesses that focus be placed on this immediately.
Without decisive action common infections have the potential to wipe out thousands as they would fail to respond to conventional treatment resulting in lengthened recovery time and increased chances of death. The World Health Organization for example reports that there are 440,000 new cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis emerging annually and causing about 150,000 deaths. Treatment for cancers and HIV could also be at risk.
Drug resistance is caused by inappropriate and improper use of antimicrobial medicines, which provides resistant microorganism including bacteria, viruses and some parasites to emerge, spread and persist as they can no longer be treated with conventional medicines. It is important that we all take a united stand as we risk derailing the progress made and the potential for attaining the UN Millennium Development Goals for 2015.
The solution to the problem of antimicrobial resistance is simple. It begins by ensuring strict adherence to medications. I therefore implore all persons to follow their doctors instructions precisely when taking their medication. If you are prescribed antibiotics for example, you should take the full course prescribed by your doctor in the manner outlined unless otherwise indicated. We also have to step up our surveillance system to ensure that we quickly detect any changes in the activity of bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause illness. Strengthening our research capacity and our infection prevention and control programmes is another step in the right direction. This is a complex problem that requires the cooperation of all of us. I call on everyone to play their part in ensuring that we win the battle so that we will have a cure tomorrow.
Hon. Rudyard Spencer, OD, MP
Minister of Health