Sun | Dec 17, 2017

National campaign on the negative effects of antibiotic misuse to be launched

Published:Wednesday | November 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, in partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI), the World Health Organisation, the Pan American Health Organisation and the National Health Fund, is set to launch a national public education campaign around the growing global issue of antibiotic resistance and the adverse effects it can have on a person's health.

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change and become resistant to the antibiotics that are used to treat the infections they cause. This compromises the ability to treat infectious diseases and undermines many advances in medicine.

In his keynote address at the Antibiotics Awareness Week breakfast held on November 17 at the Courtyard Marriot Hotel, Dr Arjun Srinivasan, the associate director for Healthcare-Associated Infection Prevention Programmes at the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), noted that if there was no change to the current prescription pattern and use of antibiotics by the year 2050, antibiotic resistance would kill more people in the world than cancer.

"A study commissioned in 2014 by UK Prime Minister, David Cameron found that in the year 2050, antibiotic resistance will kill 10 million people. In fact, it will be the largest cause of mortality in the entire world." Srinivasan said.

He said studies have shown that early exposure to antibiotics has been linked to several health issues such as obesity.

Action against antimicrobial resistance has been in the making since 2014 when Dr Alison Nicholson, head of UWI's Microbiology Department put together a cross-faculty, multi-disciplinary team from the UWI and the Ministry of Health to address the problem. Since then, however, the fight against antimicrobial resistance has intensified to include the development of global and national action plans that involve several government ministries in an attempt to address the challenges being faced with multi-drug resistant organisms such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection (MRSA) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

"We want Jamaicans to fully understand the implications of abusing, or misusing antibiotic. We also want to spread the message that a communal approach is needed to curtail the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance," Nicholson told her audience.