The Department of Health (DOH) holds a National Stakeholders Meeting for the Country Situation Analysis on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) today as the DOH recognizes the growing public health concern of AMR and aims to develop a national policy to address the use of antimicrobials among humans and animals.
The discovery of antimicrobials has been hailed as the greatest achievement in treating infections and life-threatening diseases. However, these medicines have lost their effectiveness over time due to microorganism resistance.
The proliferation of drug-resistant microbial strains has been associated with a variety in healthcare services provider management, and patient-related issues. According to experts, inappropriate use and abuse of antimicrobials is the primary cause of AMR, as some people use it without prescription, without a proven diagnosis of bacterial infection, and non-adherence to the prescribed therapy. The inadequacy or absence of treatment guidelines and compliance to these also contribute to the emergence of AMR.
According to the data of the Antibiotic Resistance Surveillance Program (ARSP) of the DOH, the rates of resistance among various pathogens in the country are found to be very alarming.
The resistance of Streptococcus pneumonia, a causative agent of acute respiratory infections (ARI), to penicillin increased from 0% in 2010 to 4% in 2011. 43% of all hospital-acquired infections (HAI) are due to multi-drug resistantPseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter spp.
There has also been a rising resistance of Staphylococcus aureus thereby contributing to the continuous increase in the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is also an important cause of HAI and other community acquired infections. Further, the resistance rates of Neisseria gonorrhoea were found to be as high as 77% for ciprofloxacin, 70% for ofloxacin, and 65% for tetracycline.
As regards to multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), the Philippines ranks 6th (i.e. after China, India, Russia, Pakistan, and South Africa) among 27 identified countries. Four percent of new cases of TB and 20.9 % for previously treated cases of TB acquired MDR-TB.
“Antimicrobial resistance is now becoming a growing health concern for both the DOH and the Department of Agriculture,” Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona said, adding that both agencies will adopt the World Health Organization’s six-point policy package to combat AMR.
The World Health Organization’s six-point policy to combat AMR includes (1) commitment to a comprehensive, financed national plan with accountability and civil society engagement; (2) surveillance and laboratory capacity; (3) initiatives to ensure uninterrupted access to essential medicines of assured quality; (4) regulation and promotion of rational use of medicines, including in animal husbandry, and in ensuring proper patient care; (5) infection prevention and control programs; and (6) efforts to foster innovations and research, and in the development of new tools.
The objectives of the National Stakeholders Meeting are to create awareness on the current AMR situation in the country, discuss and identify major gaps, and agree on the need to institutionalize key interventions to combat AMR through the development of a national policy by supporting the approval of an Executive Order on Combating AMR.
Ona stressed that this national policy will define, establish, and sustain specific initiatives on AMR in the country and will address the health threats accompanying it.