30/01/2002

Minister launches action plan to reduce antibiotic use

The Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Bairbre de Brún has launched a three-year antibiotic resistance plan at the Health Promotion Agency in Belfast.

Speaking in Belfast on Wednesday January 30 as she launched the Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan (AMRAP) Ms de Brún said: “This is one of those rare opportunities for taking the long view on health protection and giving future generations a better chance of resisting infections.

"Minimising antibiotic usage, especially that usage which is of no value in the first place, can have a cumulative effect in preserving the efficacy of antibiotics."

The AMRAP working group was formed in January 2001 and was chaired by microbiologist Dr Hugh Webb. The group was asked to draw up a three year action plan to help preserve the usefulness of current antimicrobial drugs, ensure optimal use of any new drugs which may appear and to slow the development of resistance.

The Minister said: “It is essential that we take definitive action both to tackle this in the short-term and to lay the foundations for a long-term approach to the problem. Growing resistance must be clearly addressed now, rather than leaving it until one of the great medical and scientific achievements of the twentieth century is negated.

“We need to address a culture of expectation that views drugs such as antibiotics as being a cure-all. We don’t need antibiotics for most sore throats and sore ears, colds, and illnesses caused by viruses such as flu.

"Getting across that message of restraint to the public and those professionals working in the field of health care for humans and in animal health is a key aspect of the report.” (AMcE)

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