When antibiotics fail: Antimicrobial Resistance issue on national health agenda, says Kiyani

Published: November 17, 2018


The growing problem of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) remains a serious but avoidable health challenge in almost all countries of the world resulting in an alarming increase in the burden of infections due to multi-resistant organisms.

The increasing prevalence of resistance to broad spectrum antimicrobial medicines to different microbe is reported from all over the world, which has significant impact on human health.

The direct consequences of infection with resistant microorganisms are severe with consequence of longer illness, prolonged hospital stay, loss of patient protection undergoing surgical and other medical invasive procedures thereby resulting in increased mortality and health care costs. AMR is cross cutting and affects all areas of health and other sectors and has an overall impact on the society as a whole.

Study finds alarming rate of antibiotic consumption in Pakistan

Speaking on the occasion of World AMR awareness week, the Minister for National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) Aamir Mehmood Kiyani informed that Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) containment, being a major priority of government, has been included in national public health agenda.

Pakistan has endorsed the Global Action Plan for AMR developed by the WHO and is committed to implement strong programme for containment of AMR in Pakistan, he said.

Aligning to the country’s need and global commitment, the government has designated National Focal Point for AMR for human health and notified a multi-sectoral AMR oversight committee to develop various technical and policy documents, Kiyani said.

Excessive use of antibiotics


Accordingly, a national AMR strategic framework has been developed in Pakistan with “One Health” approach. This framework has been developed through a consultative process and is in line with the five strategic objectives of the WHO Global Action Plan for AMR. The Pakistan NIH has been enrolled in WHO Global Antimicrobial Surveillance System (GLASS) and setting up sentinel surveillance for AMR using GLASS protocol. Pakistan is also among the few countries implementing Tricycle Project which is aimed at integrated trans-sectorial surveillance system for bacterial resistance to antibiotics on a global basis.

The MNHSRC has also developed a National Action Plan for AMR through collaborative efforts of all the concerned stakeholders. The primary objective of the national AMR Action Plan (NAP) is to ensure that current antimicrobials remain effective as long as possible for all those who need them, and minimise the cost associated with their indiscriminate use.

The major strategic priorities of NAP include development and implementation of a national awareness raising and behavioural change strategy on antimicrobial resistance; establishment of an integrated national AMR surveillance (human, animal usage and resistance monitoring); improve prevention & control of infections in health care, community, animal health, food, agriculture and environment; update and enforce regulations for human and veterinary antimicrobial utilisation; phase out use of antimicrobials as Growth Promoters and provide appropriate alternatives (such as prebiotics, probiotics); integration of AMR in all public health research agendas including research on vaccines; and, estimation of health and economic burden of AMR for decision making.

Meanwhile the MNHSRC and NIH shall remain committed to assist the provincial health and non-health sectors to develop their respective action plans in line with strategic objectives of the Global Action Plan and strategic priorities of NAP on AMR.

Being the focal point for AMR, the NIH under the auspices of ministry of NHSRC is observing World Antibiotic Awareness Week from 12-18 Nov 2018. The theme of this year’s antibiotic awareness week is “Change can’t wait. Our time with antibiotics is running out.”

During this week, NIH has planned series of activities including distribution of awareness materials for general public, press briefing, talk shows, seminars and awareness walk etc.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2018.

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