World Health Day message

Once regarded as a universal remedy, health professionals around the world are now sounding the alarm on the diminishing curative powers of medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses.

If this trend continues, we stand the risk of regression to the pre-antibiotic era and an uncontrolled rise in drug resistance, threatening lives and placing an undue burden on the health sector.

We live in an era where we depend on antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines to treat conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis and HIV/AIDS. Antimicrobials are medicines, which include antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals.

Although antimicrobial resistance is not a new problem, it is one that is becoming increasingly important given the danger to global healthcare.

The use and misuse of antimicrobials over the past 70 years, and the marked decline in the number of new antimicrobials developed, have led to an increase in drug resistance resulting in higher healthcare costs.

It is therefore important that we do our part in this, the 21st century, on World Health Day 2011 to avert this potential catastrophe in the making. With the slogan Antimicrobial Resistance: No action today, No cure tomorrow, this day is dedicated to raising awareness and serving as a call to action.

Urgent and coordinated action is required to ensure adequate treatment of patients and effective therapy for future generations. We must be mindful that change begins with us. The choice is yours.

Like other countries, we can turn back the clock by using antimicrobials wisely. This includes taking the full course of a prescribed antimicrobial, ensuring that a continuous supply of high quality medicines are available and ensure that our laboratories conduct quality assurance. Through these actions, patient safety can be maintained and drug resistance reduced.

We should not become complacent. So, on World Health Day 2011, make it your commitment and personal responsibility to act now, because your action today means protection for tomorrow.

A combination of exercising, healthy eating and practising good hygiene is indeed the best prescription for building up your immune system and guarding against disease.

With these simple practices, we will find that illnesses will remain few, which in turn reduces the need for antimicrobial medicines. In this regard, I am pleased to announce a new Public Health programme, Be Fit Cayman!

Launching today, this initiative will promote awareness and create opportunities for people to take charge of their own health.

May God bless you all.

Mark Scotland

Minister of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture