Minister joins global call to fight drug resistance

| 06/04/2011

(CNS): The growing problem of drug resistance is the target of the World Health Day (Thursday 7 April) campaign this year and the local health minister is calling people not to use antibiotics for colds and other viruses. With many diseases becoming increasingly resistant to the medicines used to fight them, especially antibiotics, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is seeking greater commitment from around the world to help address the problem by controlling the unnecessary prescription of medicines. Antimicrobial resistance is endangering the continued effectiveness of many medicines and threatening health professionals’ ability to treat infectious diseases.

Governments and practitioners are being asked by the WHO to implement the policies and practices needed to prevent and counter the emergence of highly resistant micro-organisms.

Supporting this call to action, Cayman’s Health Minister Mark Scotland urged people to explore alternative treatments instead of reaching for antibiotics to treat simple colds and other virus infections.

“Although this is indeed a highly sophisticated medical issue, the good news is that everyone can improve the longevity of antibiotics,” he said in his World Health Day message. He also said making healthy choices was important as there is a connection between lifestyle and drug resistance. “A combination of exercising and eating healthily is indeed the best prescription for building up your immune system. A strong one means fewer illnesses, which in turn reduces the need for antibiotics.”

For its part in the ‘war’ against AMR, the Laboratory of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) has been collecting data on antibiotic resistance trends, and preparing reports (antibiograms) on a bi-annual basis since 1997. This information is distributed to the hospital’s Infection Control Department, the Public Health Department, all physicians, the chief pharmacist and is also submitted to the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), where it is included in regional surveys monitoring antibiotic trends.

“Monitoring data in this way allows for informed decision-making, aiding doctors in selecting the most appropriate medicines for patients. It also set the stage for educational and technical-support interventions in instances where guidelines need to be reviewed or revised,” HSA GP Coordinator Dr Anna Matthews explained.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses or parasites evolve to withstand attacks by antimicrobial medicines (antibiotics, antivirals, and antimalarials) to which they were previously sensitive. This means that standard treatments become ineffective and infections persist and may even spread.

When infections caused by resistant micro-organisms become resistant to standard treatment, it results in prolonged illness and puts patients at greater risk of death. This is threatening a return to the pre-antibiotic era. Many infectious diseases risk becoming uncontrollable and could derail the progress made towards reaching the targets of the health-related United Nations Millennium Development Goals set for 2015.

Drug resistance is also increasing the costs of health care as more expensive therapies become necessary. The longer duration of illness and treatment, often in hospitals, increases healthcare costs as well as the financial burden to families and communities.

AMR is a consequence of the misuse and excessive, but often unnecessary, prescribing of antimicrobial medicines. For example, when patients do not take the full course of a prescribed antimicrobial or when poor-quality antimicrobials are used, resistant micro-organisms can emerge and spread.

See health minister’s message below.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The solution lies with the drug companies and those doctors who prescribe antibiotics every time their patients sneeze. Many patients don’t know the difference between viruses and bacteria.Their doctors should insist  they finish any course of antibiotics that they embark on, and explain why.

     

    I would guess that most drug companies’ promotional activities are somewhat in conflict with responsible medical practice. I see little distinction between the moral attitudes of the drug industry, which pushes products on people who would be far better off without them, the food industry, which seems quite happy to poison its consumers with hydrogenated fats and residual hormones, and the tobacco industry, which in the old days, suggested that smoking was good for sore throats.

     

    Ultimately, it’s all about sales and market share, and sailing just close enough to the wind as will keep you out of jail. Meanwhile, the world’s bacteria are trading resistant genes like Pokemon cards.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Another common affliction which should be addressed is the scourge of irony-deficiency which has swept the nation.
    If screening tests were run on the general population you’d be appalled by the numbers.
    Monitor responses to statements such as: “Oil refineries and dredging are good for the environment because they encourage development of hardier species.” or “I think it’s funny when my mother calls me a son-of-a-b**ch.”
    This would soon weed out the truly irony-deficient from the ones who are just posing to fit in…

  3. Michael Weston says:

    Good luck with that one. The fact that you can buy prescription antibiotics in any bodega in Latin America shows that self-medication is the norm in this region. Tell any Latin American that the practice is harmful and they will look at you like you shot the Pope.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Taking in to consideration this government future medical Plans for Cayman and certain parties here leaning towards certain countries some should read the current information on the Drug Resistant superbug NDM-1 and what the UK statements are on the matter.Also the current findings by the University of Cardiff on a certain Water bug found in India Please go the BBC health website an read carefully Cayman. The focus of this campaign by our Health minister is odd even though it is World Health Day.

    • Anonymous says:

      Although the presence of NDM-1 has been identified by researchers in other countries, it’s origins in hospitals is denied by the Indian Minister of Health, specifically because of the billions made through medical tourism. It is just "coincidence" that these people from other countries who died just also "happened" to be medical tourists. The NDM-1 gene also carries strains of cholera and dysentry which are untreatable with normal antibiotics. So Mr. Scotland is correct in that sense….