Belize City, Belize, January 26, 2023 (PAHO) - The One Health Committee of Belize in partnership with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and funding support from the United States Government awarded three health personnel and three tertiary level students for placing in the “Belize is Antimicrobial Aware!” Video/Poster Competition.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) continues to be a global public health threat to humans, animals, plants, and the environment. AMR occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs developing antimicrobial resistance.
“Antibiotics and other antimicrobials have contributed to the health and wellbeing of humans and animals, but these gains are being lost over recent decades, through their inappropriate use (overuse and misuse) leading antimicrobial resistance resulting in reduced efficacy and threatening the effective treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections, resulting in prolonged illness and increased morbidity and mortality,” said Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative in Belize. “It is estimated that in 2019, at least 1.27 million deaths were linked to AMR worldwide.”
In May 2015, a global action plan to tackle AMR was endorsed at the World Health Assembly, supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Each year, there is a call for collaboration across sectors to preserve the efficacy of these critical medicines.
“The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to learn so much about the health risks posed by microbial diseases, not only doctors but all of us,” said Mr. Mark Perry, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy. “The U.S. Embassy is grateful for this opportunity today to honor the hard work that health workers in Belize have been doing to keep us all safer. That includes the students, through this competition, as partners with the health professionals, helping to raise awareness, especially of the danger of misuse of antimicrobials.”
The competition acted as an educational campaign to support spreading the message about the responsible use of antimicrobials. Held at two levels, the competition encouraged both tertiary-level students and one health personnel to submit a poster and/or video that visually explains their understanding of antimicrobial awareness.
In the one health personnel category:
- First Place: Dr. Josselin Blanco (Poster Submission)
- Second Place: Dr. Laura Freisen and Ms. Felicia Freisen (Poster Submission)
- Third Place: Maria de la Luz Vasquez (Poster Submission)
In the tertiary level category:
- First Place: Rheema Emmanuel (Video Submission)
- Second Place: Bruno Juliet (Poster Submission)
- Third place: Ramanakeerthy Manikandan (Poster Submission)
The winners were awarded prizes for their placement and other participants were given participatory packages for their excellent submissions and understanding of AMR.
“Considering the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on AMR to date and the recently approved Regional policy on ‘One Health: A Comprehensive Approach,’ we need to continue to advocate for the prioritization and sustainability of these AMR response actions,” said Dr. Jorge Polanco, Director of Hospital Services and Allied Health of the Ministry of Health and Wellness. “It is necessary to consolidate these efforts initiated through this ONE Health approach.”
The One Health Committee of Belize (comprised of the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprises, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), and the National Meteorological Service) and PAHO/WHO continues to work with key partners like the United States Government in addressing this health threat to the global public across all government sectors and society.