The Philippines, led by the Department of Health (DOH), joined the global community in the celebration of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) held on November 14-20, 2016. The celebration aimed to increase awareness on global antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers so that further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance can be avoided. The theme for the global campaign is “Antibiotics: Handle with Care” reflecting the overarching message that antibiotics are a precious resource and should be judicially used by patients and healthcare professionals.
The DOH partnered with the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) in sending text health messages to the public promoting the rational use of antimicrobials, prevention of infection and the importance of seeking the expertise of the medical doctors before taking antimicrobials. Social Media advocacy materials were also developed and disseminated in the official DOH Website and DOH Facebook pages to further communicate the campaign to the masses. Moreover, the DOH in collaboration with the WHO held a national competition to actively engage all sectors in the fight against AMR with the following categories: poster making for elementary students; storybook making for high school students; infomercial and infographics making for college students and young professionals.
The national kick-off ceremony for the PAAW 2016 happened last November 15 , 2016 at the Manila Pavilion Hotel and was attended by the DOH Central Office, Inter-Agency Committee to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance (ICAMR), National Antibiotic Guidelines Committee (NAGCom), WHO, select professional medical societies, pharmaceutical industry, academe and patient organizations. The program commenced with corresponding messages from Assistant Secretary Agnette P. Peralta of the DOH Office for Health Regulation, Dr. Gundo Weiler, the WHO Country Representative, Undersecretary Ranibai Dilangalen of the Department of Agriculture and the Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rossel-Ubial.
The week-long celebration was also an opportunity to launch important initiative such as the ceremonial launching and handover of the Philippine Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) Program Toolkit to the stakeholders which included the AMS Manual of Procedures for Hospitals, Antimicrobial Use Monitoring Methods Guide and the National Antibiotic Guidelines. The AMS toolkit aims to guide health care professionals in the implementation of hospital interventions ensuring the optimization of antimicrobial treatment for all patients. By 2020, the AMS program will be part of the licensing standards for all hospitals so they are encouraged to start implementing the program immediately. Representative societies from the different sectors such as hospitals, infectious disease societies, pharmaceutical industries and patient organizations gave their message of support to strengthen the country’s commitment to wage the war against AMR.
DOH Secretary Ubial and DA Undersecretary Dilangalen headed the awarding ceremony for the PAAW Competition. They awarded the 2016 AMR Warriors from nine (9) institutions coming from the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry which have the best practices to combat AMR and strongly advocate the responsible use of antibiotics. To conclude the event, a national press conference was held with the following panelists:
- Sec. Paulyn Jean Rossel-Ubial – Secretary of Health
- Usec. Ranibai Dilangalen – DA Undersecretary for Special Concerns
- Dr. Gundo Weiler – WHO- Country Representative
- Dr. Mediadora Saniel – National Antibiotic Guidelines Committee Chair
- Dr. Celia C. Carlos - Head of the Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Program.
The PAAW celebration was also participated in. by all DOH regional Offices across the country engaging the community through an advocacy walk, zumba exercise, public fora, community lecture, patient counselling and pledge signing. Various advocacy events were also organized by different student groups, universities, church-based organizations, trade associations, and professional societies across the nation.