#Jamaica, November 15, 2017 – Kingston – The public is being urged to take greater responsibility in the use of antibiotics to prevent the further occurrence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of a microorganism (bacterium, virus and some parasites) to prevent antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and may spread to others.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries has adopted the global action plan, along with the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Animal Health Organization, to tackle antimicrobial resistance among humans and animals.
Director of Veterinary Public Health in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Linnette Peters, said the multi-stakeholder approach is to ensure that the public is made aware of the various causes for the resistance. Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, she added that the public’s interest in this matter of AMR is important for the effective use of antibiotics. She said everyone should get involved to assist in the continuity of successful treatment and prevention of infectious diseases.
Dr. Peters outlined a number of ways microorganisms have developed resistance, and is urging the public to pay keen attention to prevent further opposition to the drugs.
“We have the problem of the misuse and abuse of antibiotics… (as) many times patients visit their physicians and ask for antibiotics for an illness that does not require the use of the drug,” she noted.
She stressed that sometimes the antibiotic is not really needed to treat the condition for which the patient requests it, and, as a result of giving the antibiotic for a simple matter, the body is forced to build up resistance to prevent the drug from working in the future. Dr. Peters said that there are also situations where persons get the antibiotics and do not take them for the full course.
“This is very critical. There are times when the patient starts to feel well and he or she will stop taking it. This is a very bad thing to do, because when you do this, the bacteria are still in the body, just a little suppressed; hence you feel better, but the bacteria will return strong if the full dosage is not administered. So, you should desist from this practice,” she urged.
Dr. Peters is encouraging the public to purchase antibiotics from reputable sources, official pharmacies and doctors. She explained that it is very important that the public take heed to the appeal, adding that buying antibiotics from disreputable places is dangerous.
“They are sometimes not stored properly, so they will lose the potency; sometimes they are expired drugs, and if you take medication with these conditions, the strength will not be enough to kill the germs,” she said.
Dr. Peters noted that there is also the misuse of antibiotics by farmers as growth promoters, which is a concern and a big problem in AMR.
“Farmers are adding antibiotics to the animal feed, and when the animal consumes it, this will affect the lining of the intestine, and organisms in the stomach that are exposed to this antibiotic (may) develop resistance,” she said.
She explained that farmers should adhere to the instructions of the veterinarians to ensure that the animals are treated and the withdrawal period is observed. This, she advised, is to safeguard that the drug is fully out of the animal’s system before it is slaughtered for sale.
Dr. Peters said if the meat is sold with residues from the drug, it is especially dangerous, because the animals will not be cured from the bacterial infections, and, if consumed, it will pose a greater problem to the health of the public.
World Antibiotic Awareness Week is being observed from November 13 to 19, under the theme ‘Antibiotic, the End of an Era’.