#Providenciales, November 20, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health (both animal and plant), food security, and development today. Antibiotic resistance refers specifically to the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of antibiotics (medications used to treat them). They have warned that it is so severe that if no action is taken it threatens our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illnesses, disability, and even death.
This highlights the importance of World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW). WAAW, which is being celebrated on November 18 – 24th this year, is an annual observance that highlights the steps everyone can take to improve antibiotic prescribing and use.
Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, certain human behaviours can make the situation worse and speed up the process. This includes the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in people and animals, including use without professional oversight. Examples of misuse include when people take antibiotics for viral infections like colds and flu, and when they are given to animals to promote their growth or used to prevent diseases in healthy animals.
Given the above, here are some ways you can help prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistant organisms:
· Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed by your doctor. That is, do not skip doses and ensure that you complete your course of treatment, even when you start feeling better.
· Only take antibiotics prescribed for you; do not share or use leftover antibiotics.
· Do not save antibiotics for the next illness, discard any leftover medication.
· Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor thinks you do not need them.
· Prevent infections by regularly washing hands, preparing food hygienically, avoiding close contact with sick people, practicing safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date.
· Do not purchase antibiotics from unlicensed pharmacies or shops.
Because antibiotic resistance is a complex problem that is driven by many connected factors, it is important to take a multisectoral coordinated approach to minimize its emergence and spread. In light of this, the Ministry of Health has formed a working group, comprised of health professionals from various sectors, to devise a national action plan (NAP) to tackle the this very serious problem.
The NAP is a comprehensive plan that will place emphasis on antimicrobial resistance (resistance in microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) and not just antibiotic resistance itself. The NAP will seek to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance, strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research, reduce the incidence of infection and improve the use of antimicrobial agents. Throughout the year, members of the team have engaged in several exercises and training designed to build capacity in this area.
The MoHASHS in collaboration with the TCI Hospital and local pharmacies has planned a number of events/activities. These include:
- Discussion on antibiotic resistance on Monday, November 18th airing on RTC’s Health Matters Radio show at 7:00 p.m.
- Distributing information flyers to the Primary Health Care clinics.
- Setting up information booths at the TCI Hospitals on Wednesday, November 20th.
- Discussions on antibiotic resistance (to be conducted by the Director of Agriculture) with farmers throughout the week (November 18 – 24, 2019).
- A presentation on antibiotic resistance at HJ Robinson High School on Friday, November 22, 2019.
- A presentation on antibiotic resistance to church groups in Grand Turk at the LIFE Training Centre on Saturday, November 23, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
- A presentation on antibiotic resistance to Providence Baptist Church, North Caicos on Sunday, November 24, 2019.
- A presentation on antibiotic resistance to Enid Capron Primary School by Carolina Pharmacy, Thursday, November 21, 2019.
- Discussion on antibiotic resistance on the Breakfast Club by Carolina Pharmacy, Saturday, November 23, 2019.
- Local pharmacies will be educating and counselling patients on antibiotic resistance at their respective locations throughout the week.
For more information regarding antibiotic resistance please contact the MoHASHS on 338-5132 or 338- 3072.