Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
The Ministry of Health and Social Development is encouraging the community to be mindful of the use and abuse of antibiotics and other microbials that can lead to the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites no longer respond to antimicrobial agents. As a result of drug resistance and antibiotics, antimicrobial agents become ineffective and infections become difficult or impossible to treat, increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
Chief of Drugs and Pharmaceutical Services Mrs. Gracia Wheatley-Smith said that if the impact of AMR is not reduced, life would return to a point where there were no antimicrobials to treat diseases, viruses, fungal and other infections. When we do not use the right antibiotic or antiviral in the right way for the right duration of time, the bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites adapt to the environment of low dose of treatment, where the organism is not affected by the medicine, this leads AMR.
Mrs. Wheatley-Smith further stated that without antimicrobials, interventions such as open-heart surgeries and hip replacement will be more difficult to perform without the prevention of infections. She added that more pre-mature babies would die because treating infections will be difficult if they develop an infection that is resistant to antibiotics and persons who are immune compromised, such as HIV and cancer patients will be more susceptible to infections and treatment will be very difficult as a result of AMR.
The community is therefore encouraged to reduce AMR by avoiding infection, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands frequently, cleaning and sanitising surfaces and cutting boards, and reducing the use of anti-bacteria products, which continuously feed the bacteria living on the skin and make them get stronger.
Persons are also advised to fill prescriptions at a reputable pharmacy to reduce the chances of purchasing a counterfeit or substandard medication and avoid purchasing medicines online.
Let us do our part, to reduce or prevent anti-microbial resistance and help save lives. Antimicrobial Week is being observed from November 18-24 under the theme “Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together”.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development is committed to improving the health of the people of the Virgin Islands.