Antibiotics face a test from the rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, according to World Health Organization (WHO) country representative Gundo Weiler.
“The ability to fight infections with drugs is one of the most important achievement[s]that we often take for granted but today we are at risk of losing this achievement because of Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR),” Weiler said on Tuesday during the celebration of Philippine Antibiotic Awareness Week at Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel.
Weiler added that an estimated 700,000 deaths worldwide resulted from infections caused by AMR and it is predicted to increase to 10 million by 2050.
He said he considers AMR as one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development.
It will also affect the economy worldwide with losses amounting to $100 trillion, Weiler added.
Misuse of antibiotics is the leading cause of AMR, the ability of bacteria to be resistant to treatment using antibiotics.
One reason is the confusion of the public that treats antibiotics as vitamins, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said.
“Antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections only when prescribed by a certified health professional,” Weiler said.
Monitoring and controlling the use of antibiotics is difficult because pharmacies and drugstores do not observe the law requiring a doctor’s prescription before antibiotics can be procured.
Another misuse of antibiotics is shortening treatment using these substances.
“The full course of treatment must be completed, not saved for the future,” Weiler said.
Ubial cited a required period of intake for antibiotics.
The Department of Health has partnered with the World Health Organization to combat the increasing instances of AMR through launching of three operational tools to guide health professionals in their prescription of antibiotics.
These tools–AMS Manual of Procedures, National Antibiotic Guidelines and Anti-Microbial Consumption Methods Guide–signal the start of PAAW’s Anti-Microbial Stewardship (AMS) program to address the misuse of antibiotics.
Ubial said the Health department is advocating a stop to medical missions, which cause AMR.
Around 90 percent of those who benefit from medical missions pretend to be sick to get free drugs, she added.
Instead, she encouraged the public to seek consultation when sick.
“What we want to do is to strengthen the routine health care delivery system so that when people get sick they have the available drugs and the available professionals,” Ubial said.
Meanwhile, surveillance conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine continues to provide data that could serve as guide to health professionals on what antibiotics to prescribe, RITM’s Celia Carlos said.
“Without those important surveillance data, we can never be sure what works and what does not work,” Carlos added.