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DOH Launches Action Plan to Combat Anti-Microbial Resistance

          The Department of Health (DOH) spearheads the 1st Philippine Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) Summit which aims to address the misuse of antibiotics driving the emergence of AMR by making bacteria and viruses stronger that make them withstand the effect of antibiotics. AMR has become common in the clinical and community settings. AMR is the ability of microbes, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi, to grow in the presence of a chemical or drug, which would normally kill or inhibit its growth

     “AMR is a natural phenomenon resulting from the adaptation of microbes to external threats but it is aggravated by man-made causes. The increase of drug-resistant microbial strains has been associated with inappropriate prescribing, dispensing and use of antibiotics by healthcare providers and patients.” Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin explained.

     The annual reports produced by the Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Program of DOH – Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, have shown increasing rates of resistance among various pathogens. Many of the causative bacterial pathogens in the ten leading causes of morbidity in the country have also acquired multiple drug resistance and at the forefront is Tuberculosis. As far as multi-drug resistant TB or MDR-TB (resistance to Rifampicin and Isoniazid) is concerned, the Philippines ranks 6th (i.e. China, India, Russia, Pakistan, and South Africa) among 27 identified countries. MDR-TB among new cases in the Philippines was found to be at 2%, and 20.9% for previously treated cases.

     In April 10, 2014, Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 42 entitled “Creating an Inter-Agency Committee for the Formulation and Implementation of a National Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance in the Philippines” was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III. The Interagency Committee aims to formulate and implement plans that can rationalize and streamline the efforts of different government agencies such as the DOH, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to address the AMR problem.

     In view thereof, the DOH led in the finalization of a National Action Plan on AMR through the Inter-Agency Committee on AMR (ICAMR). This year, the ICAMR approved a 3-year action plan entitled Philippine Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance: One Health. The action plan specifies the strategies, activities, outcome indicators and budgetary requirements to control and prevent AMR by addressing the following key areas” (1) Commitment to comprehensive, financed action plan with accountability and civil society engagement; (2) Strengthening of surveillance and laboratory capacity; (3) Sustainable access to essential medicines of assured quality; (4) Regulation and promotion of rational use of medicines; (5) Enhancement of infection prevention and control; (6) Fostering of innovations and research and development for new tools; and (7) Development of a risk communication plan.

     “This action plan will not simply stand as a document. It is a start of greater work and responsibility that needs to be addressed.  In order to win the fight against AMR we need to work hand-in-hand. All of us have a responsibility. Magbasa. Magtanong. Kumonsulta. Malaki ang magagawa ng mamamayang may kusa para sa bayan.” Garin concluded.