World Health Day 2011 focused on antimicrobial resistance

PODGRICA, Thursday,  April 2011 – Ministry of Health of Montenegro and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Montenegro marked the World Health Day – April 7th by organizing a round table focused on antimicrobial resistance – this year’s World Health Day theme, with particular focus on antibiotic resistance. The round table “Antimicrobial resistance and its global spreading: No action today, no cure tomorrow” drew attention to the dangers of more widespread resistance to antimicrobial medicines, which reduces the effectiveness of many antimicrobial medicines in treating communicable diseases.

The importance of appropriate usage of antimicrobial drugs and antibiotics was highlighted through active discussion that followed the opening remarks of Mr. Miodrag Radunović, Minister of Health of Montenegro and Ms. Mina Brajović, Head of the WHO  in Montenegro.

Head of the WHO Country Office in Montenegro, Ms. Mina Brajović highlighted the importance of addressing anti – microbial resistance and improve the infection control in hospitals, emphasizing that anti microbial resistance, particularly resistance to antibiotics, is a growing public health problem at the global level that does not recognize political or biological boundaries. “Decades of unselective use of antibiotics are behind us – in human
said Ms. Brajović stressing that antibacterial resistance is causing mortality and increase in health care costs jeopardizing global health security and achievements of modern medicine. “The control and prevention of resistance is a complex process that requires a multidisciplinary and multi-sectral approach and cooperation,’’ Ms. Brajović pointed out, adding that  national action is needed in order to efficiently address this issue. “Preservation of antibiotics’ effectiveness for the future generations is joint responsibility of all. If we do not address this issue properly, we risk returning into pre–antibiotic era when an ordinary lung infection was fatal, and when doctors were powerless in dealing with meningitis,” said Ms. Brajović and stated that WHO is commited to continue supporting authorities in order to preserve valuable and effective medicines for the future generations.

Minister of Health in the Government of Montenegro, Mr. Miodrag Radunović estimated that antibiotic
resistance is largely spreading due to abuse or incorrect use of antibiotics. “Excessive use of antibiotics clearly leads to the emergence of antibiotic resistance. It is necessary to face this problem seriously and that experts and general public make a joint effort to resolve it,” Minister Radunović said. Mr. Radunović reemphasized that doctors are obliged to apply modern protocols when treating infections. “But patients can also make their own contribution to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance. It would be enough if they did not to take antibiotics on their own initiative, but only per recommendation of doctors, and if they consistently adhered to these recommendations,” said Radunović and emphasized that the Ministry will make efforts to raise awareness of the public on the hazards of inappropriate use of antibiotics as well as in regard to the introduction of antibiotic resistance monitoring in hospitals.

Ms. Gordana Mijović from the Institute for Public Health explained that studies showed that half of the antibiotic therapies are not appropriate, thus the antibiotic prescribed is not effective, as it is in cases of viral infections.

During a constructive dialogue participants discussed an outline of the framework and measures to control and prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance at the country level.

The round table on antimicrobial resistance gathered more than 40 representatives of different institutions – public and private health care providers, Institute for Public Health, pharmacies, Health Insurance Fund, Drugs Agency, Veterinary Authority, etc…

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At present, every year 25 000 people in the European Union die because of a serious resistant bacterial infection mostly acquired in health care settings. It is the widespread use of antibiotics both in humans and animals which leads to resistance – a natural biological defense mechanism of bacteria under threat. Resistant bacteria can easily spread between people, animals, products and the environment and this is becoming an urgent public health problem as not many new antibiotics are coming to the market.
Without new and effective antibiotics, but with increasing resistance, society could return to the conditions of a pre-antibiotic era, when a simple lung infection could kill a child, or when doctors could not fight meningitis. Multidrug resistant tuberculosis is another example of this emerging health threat.

WHO calls on the public, the prescribers, the policy-makers, the pharmaceutical industry and the food animal production sector, to take action for balanced use – prescribe and use antibiotics responsibly, monitor and track antibiotic resistance and usages in all sectors and maintain a high level of awareness on antibiotic resistance.

WHO Regional Office for Europe will present a regional action plan including seven strategic objectives for the containment and prevention of antibiotic resistance as well as separate action plan to address multidrug resistant Tuberculosis, in to the next meeting of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, in September 2011.

In 1948, the First World Health Assembly called for the creation of a World Health Day to mark the founding of WHO. Since 1950, World Health Day has been celebrated every year on 7 April with a different theme. Each theme reflects a priority area of current concern to WHO.