Nationwide campaign to combat antimicrobial resistance runs

The Ministry of Health November 16 joined with the World Health Organization in Vietnam to organize the first national Antibiotic Awareness Week, which will start from November 16-22.

This year’s week with the global theme “Antibiotics: Handle with Care” calls on individuals and health-care professionals to take full accountability and responsibility in prescribing and dispensing antibiotics, ensuring that these are given only when truly needed.

Antimicrobial resistance in Vietnam is affecting the health of the population and weakening the health care system. In recent years, Vietnam has witnessed a growing threat of antimicrobial resistance, brought about by the excessive and irrational use of antibiotics at all levels of the health care system and the public as a whole.

In addition, the use of antimicrobials in animal husbandry, agriculture and food production increases the risk of spread of resistant microorganisms and threatens the safety and sustainability of the food chain.

Antibiotic residues in soil, water and the environment further contribute to the threat of antimicrobial resistance due to weak regulations for industrial and human waste disposal.

“The inappropriate use of antimicrobial drugs threatens the capacity of the health system to prevent, control and to treat common infectious diseases, resulting into higher mortality, prolonged treatments and catastrophic expenditures for the patients, antimicrobial resistance is multidimensional and imperils human and economic survival,” said Dr Lokky Wai, WHO Representative to Vietnam.

Vietnam will line up various activities next week to promote the safe use of antibiotics. From November 16-22, departments of health together with the provincial people’s committees of the 63 provinces of Vietnam will participate in a national relay to raise awareness amongst the general public on the responsible and safe use of antibiotics.

The country’s health authority has also launched a one million pledges campaign of individuals making personal pledge to make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming ineffective. The public  can pledge  to use antibiotics responsibly by “liking” the Antibiotics Awareness Raising Week Facebook page

Progress against antibiotic resistance in Vietnam
In 2013 Vietnam became the first country in WHO’s Western Pacific Region to approve a national action plan to combat drug resistance.

The Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Rural Development, Trade and Industry and Natural Resources and Environment together with the development partners reiterated their commitment by agreeing in an aide-memoire to coordinate and jointly implement the national action plan across different sectors in June 2014.

In line with WHO’s global and regional strategies on antimicrobial resistance, the aide-memoire and national action plan also help to raise awareness about antimicrobial resistance among health workers and the general public, enhance and improve the capacity of national surveillance systems on antibiotic use and resistance, ensure adequate supply of quality essential drugs and strengthen safe and rational drug use and infection control across sectors.

By Khanh Nguyen - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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