CPS and SLS reps attend Antimicrobial Resistance Workshop. National AMR Action Plan to Fight Superbugs by May 2017

Representatives from Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), recently attended a workshop on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in Trinidad & Tobago.


AMR happens when microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals.


Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs.”  Medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.


Antimicrobial resistance is a global concern because new resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability, and death.


Without effective antimicrobials for prevention and treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery (for example, caesarean sections or hip replacements) become very high risk.


The Sint Maarten representatives were Maria Henry, Section Head General Health Care, CPS and Radjinkoemar Steingrover, a Microbiologist from St. Maarten Laboratory Services (SLS).


The workshop was about sharing information concerning AMR being an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society, Henry stated on Monday.


Globally, 480 000 people develop multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis each year, and drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV and malaria, as well.


Attendees of the three-day workshop learnt that there is a real risk that multidrug resistance will soon emerge in other parts of the globe.


Antimicrobial resistance threatens the very core of modern medicine and the sustainability of an effective, global public health response to the enduring threat from infectious diseases.


Systematic misuse and overuse of these drugs in human medicine and food production have put every nation at risk. Without harmonized and immediate action on a global scale, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era in which common infections could once again kill.


The World Health Organization (WHO) called for coordinated action to combat the Antimicrobial resistance which is a complex problem, which affects all of society and is driven by many interconnected factors.


Coordinated action is required to minimize the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.  WHO’s conclusion as an approach to the resistance problems is that “All countries need national action plans on AMR.”


Countries should have a National AMR Plan by May 2017.  The attendees from within CPS will coordinate the multi sectoral discussions for Sint Maarten to carry out the WHO/PAHO’s request and assist in developing a National AMR Action Plan (NAP).


The workshop concluded with a common understanding to have countries start with a NAP, Henry pointed out.


The attributes of an effective National AMR Action Plan were brought forward at the workshop, which will help create a local-to-global process for a coordinated response to the global AMR threat. In developing such national plan each country has to consider their available resources and capacity when developing an AMR action plan.


Various presentations were made by representatives from the WHO, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Chief Medical Officers, Consultants and other health officials.


The workshop took place from October 11-13 and was held at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre.