Ministry of Health sensitizes the public on antimicrobial resistance

(SKNIS): Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which threatens the effective prevention and treatment of a range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi, is a growing medical concern in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. This concern prompted the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) and PAHO (Pan-American Health Organization) to take steps to raise awareness about the dangers of AMR.

A symposium held on August 24, 2017, informed members of the medical community on AMR and the risks it poses to St. Kitts and Nevis. The Honourable Wendy Phipps, Minister of State with the responsibility for Health, expressed the government’s concerns on the subject.

“… this would be important to us [government], apart from all the other important reasons,” said Minister Phipps, as she listed some key focuses of the government to combat this growing concern. She stated that proper curative interventions and precautions for the “super bugs”, managing the financial burden that comes with AMR’s, and partnering with other institutions for research and development are on the agenda for the Ministry of Health.

The minister stated that the spread of these “super bugs” puts a burden on the Ministry of Health to work vigorously to combat these AMR’s and avoid patients becoming sicker when hospitalised. She also noted that the ministry has a responsibility to improve its performance, especially in institutional based healthcare services. She further explained that this issue, if not contained, may lead to possible litigation against the government for malpractice.

Minister Phipps said that the medical cost associated with dealing with Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) and now AMR’s will be considerably high adding to the already high maintenance cost of the federation’s healthcare facilities.

“We are already looking down the barrel of phenomenal cost as it relates to NCD’s and then you add on top of that the responses required to deal with AMR.”

She also disclosed that the ministry will be working very closely with private research facilities and the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure proper care of livestock, which is a concern for food-borne type infections.

“I am sincerely hoping that today’s symposium will spawn the type of discussion coming out from the presentation and research that would then help to inform a national position,” said Minister Phipps, as she noted that herself, as well as the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Hazel Laws, will be attending a meeting at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in September of this year.

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