The World Health Organisation said anti-microbial resistance could be the biggest public health threat of the 21st century. By 2050, the WHO estimates 10 million deaths per year could result from resistant infections unless something is done.
A multi-agency group is working to develop the country’s action plan.
“If this doesn’t get under control the effect will be devastating for the public and also for the finances of the countries,” said Acting Medical Officer of Health Samuel Williams.
He said anti-microbial resistance, or AMR, is a growing threat with serious health and economic implications.
“There’s quite a few microorganisms there that are resistant to different treatment now,” said Dr. Williams.
AMR is when microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites mutate when they are exposed to antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs. The microorganisms build resistance, and the medications become ineffective.
“You can’t just show up at a pharmacy and order antibiotics without a prescription,” said Dr. Samantha Dorman of the Department of Agriculture.
She said Cayman already has tight restrictions on antibiotic use in both human health and agricultural settings, but more awareness is needed on the farm and in the general public.
“We also want to let them know that they’re actually public health ambassadors as well, you know they’re producing food for the country, so what they put into their animals is going to end up in the food chain for humans to consume,” said Dr. Dorman.
Public Health surveillance officer Timothy McLaughlin-Munroe told Cayman 27 patients have a responsibility to use antibiotics as directed.
“If you are issued antibiotics, follow how it was prescribed, make sure you finish the course, and if not, then you have the potential for developing a resistance to it,” he said.
“Anti-microbial resistance is not only human health, it’s animal health, it’s environmental health, so it’s a one health approach that we will take for this,” said Dr. Williams.
The National Action Plan development working group consists of Public Health, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Infection Control, Laboratory, and Environmental Health personnel. It has been tasked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) with creating an AMR national action plan draft by the end of May this year.
The working group is engaging the general public through an online survey to gauge existing knowledge about practices that increase the risk and spread of AMR. The survey can be accessed at www.surveymonkey.com/r/resistance345.
There are hard copies in all district health centres. The deadline to participate is Friday 17 February.