Brunei sets up action plan to check antimicrobial resistance

Hakim Hayat

Rapid development in healthcare services has come at a cost, which is the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to overcome this challenge, Brunei Darussalam has set up a national action plan spearheaded by multi-sectoral agencies, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar said yesterday.

He was speaking as the guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week Symposium 2019 at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Complex in Commonwealth Drive yesterday.

The event was also organised to commemorate World Antibiotic Awareness Week 2019.

The minister said the increasing complexity of treatments and procedures predisposing patients to infections, the unchecked overuse and misuse of antibiotics, and supoptiomal infection control practices are all factors that independently and worse so, in combination, pose a potent concoction that leave us in a worrying position of being unable to treat multi-drug resistant organisms – likening this to the pre-antibiotic era.

He said AMR is a global threat to public health and 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar speaks at the World Antibiotic Awareness Week Symposium 2019. PHOTO: HAKIM HAYAT

“Deaths from infections resistant to common antibiotics, antivirals and anti-parasitic drugs could increase more than 10-fold to 10 million deaths annually by 2050,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham said citing a United Nations (UN) report.

The minister said Brunei is geared to tackle the issue and the Brunei Darussalam Antimicrobial Resistance Committee (BDAMRC), a multi-sectoral committee comprising the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism was formed last December, and has successfully formulated a Brunei Darussalam Antimicrobial Resistance National Action Plan 2019-2020.

He said the national action plan outlines four broad, yet interlinked objective strategies – awareness and education; surveillance and research; infection prevention and control; and appropriate use of antimicrobials.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham said to operationalise the national plan, four corresponding technical working groups were formed to address human and animal health and how the two interact.

“This national action plan is in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Acton Plan and in terms of approach, very much in line with regional nations’ plans and most importantly, signifies our country’s commitment in combatting AMR,” the minister said.

The theme for this year’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week is ‘Stewards for the Future: Stop overuse and misuse of antibiotics’, which aims to strengthen the understanding on the antimicrobial resistance among health professionals and to promote good and safe antibiotic practice.

The event also saw the minister handing over three books that were launched – Brunei Darussalam Antomicrobial Resistance Action Plan; National Best Practice Guidance for Good Antibiotic Prescribing Practice and Infection Control and Risk Assessment Procedure to senior MoH officials.