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World Health Day April 7, 2011

Combat Drug Resistance
No Action today, no Cure tomorrow

World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 on the occasion of the foundation of the World Health Organization (WHO). Every year on this day, the organization chooses an important health issue whereby people of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to organize events that focus on the interest of this issue for proper health and well-being.

This year, the World Health Day is dedicated to anti-microbial resistance, a great threat for patient care and control of diseases around the world. Anti-microbial resistance – also known as drug resistance – occurs through the illicit use of medicine. Taking a lesser dose or failure to finish a prescribed cure are examples hereof. Poor quality medicine, wrong prescriptions and poor prevention of infections advance the development and spreading of drug resistance even further. Momentarily, there is a risk of this valuable array of drugs getting lost. Through use and misuse of anti-microbial substances in human medicine science and animal husbandry in the past 70 years, the number of resistant micro-organism (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungus etc) increased which leads to even more diseases, handicaps, early mortality, suffering and increased health care costs. Anti-microbial resistance is not a new problem but one which is getting increasingly dangerous

Today, most of us live longer and healthier lives, also due the fact that stronger and more effective medicine known as anti-microbial substances are available for the treatment of infections. Till 1940, when antibiotics were discovered, people died unnecessarily because of infectious diseases. Nowadays, none of us can live in a world without anti-microbial substances.

With the use of antibiotics, the following tips need to be considered:

  • Always take anti-infection medicine according to your physician’s prescription.
  • Always finish the cure.
  • Never use antibiotics for a flu or cold.
  • Anti-infection medicine such as antibiotics should only be issued by pharmacies.
  • Also ask advice from your pharmacist on the side effects of antibiotics.
  • Antibiotics are a very important medicine in the fight against infection so let us use it sparingly.

On this day, we also wish to focus attention on physicians and pharmacists to handle antibiotics and other anti-microbial medicine with the utmost efficiency and awareness.

On this day, PAHO/WHO Suriname, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, organized a round table discussion in the Academic Hospital where various speakers including Gerry Eijkemans Ph D, Sandra Hermelijn Ph D, Monique Gonesh Ph D and Stephen Vreden Ph D, will throw light on the subject. Furthermore, the antibiotics committee has been established by Celsius Waterberg Ph D, Minister of Health.

The tasks of the Antibiotics Committee are to formúlate - and adopt guidelines and introduce a formula for the application of antimicrobial medicine in Suriname. The objective is to arrive at a policy based on ‘antimicrobial stewardship’. Antimicrobial stewardship means among others that antimicrobial medicine is prescribed in conformity with scientific proof, supported by actual information on antimicrobial sensitivity of pathogenic organisms in relation to the prescribed medicine. The need of a rational antibiotics policy is caused by the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance worldwide and even in Suriname, the related increased risk of disease and mortality and an increase of the costs in health care whilst the development of new antimicrobial medicine is also stagnated.

In addition to the round table discussions and establishment of a National Antibiotics Committee, a festive closing and announcing of the results of the School Handwashing project will also take place in the canteen of CELOS, Anton de Kom University. To stimulate hand washing with soap in Suriname (especially among children), the CELOS, PAHO and UNICEF formed a partnership at the end of 2009 for implementation within the framework of Global Hand washing Day( 15 October every year), of the School Hand washing Project.

The students and teachers of 15 schools in the entire country received the opportunity to examine bacteria on their hands as real laboratory analysts, in the CELOS laboratory and learn the proper handwashing techniques. In addition, a national handwashing competition was organized whereby schools could compete for prizes to improve the sanitary facilities at their school. On April 7, the best schools with regard to handwashing were awarded.

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