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Keynote Address of Secretary Enrique T. Ona National Stakeholders Meeting On AMR

December 4, 2012


A pleasant morning to you all.

Today, we gather to reiterate our unceasing commitment to improve the health of the Filipino people. Together, we have decided to take action to combat Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

Global estimates show that infectious diseases kill 11 million people annually, 95% of whom live in resource-constrained countries such as the Philippines. To date, AMR is rapidly reducing the effectiveness of antimicrobials, making many firstline treatments ineffective. The World Health Organization approximates that there are about 440,000 new cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) that emerge annually, causing at least 150,000 deaths. In addition to MDR-TB, the WHO identified the following prevalent infections in the country to which antimicrobial resistance has steadily grown: HIV-AIDS, malaria, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and influenza. These diseases are a major health concern, affecting all sectors of society, especially the most vulnerable, which is the poor.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is defined as the ability of microorganisms that cause disease to withstand attack by antimicrobial medicines which previously were susceptible. AMR is a consequence of the repeated use, particularly the misuse, of antimicrobial medicines which cause the microorganism to mutate and acquire a resistant gene.

Infections caused by resistant microorganisms fail to respond to the standard treatment, resulting in prolonged illness and greater risk of death. It reduces the effectiveness of treatment so that patients remain infectious, thus as in TB, potentially spreading resistant microorganisms to others.

The Department of Health has long recognized the significance of addressing such major public concern. In 1988, we created the Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance program to determine the rates and trends of antimicrobial resistance among bacteria which are considered public health concerns. Subsequently, national laws were established to regulate and promote rational use of antibiotics in human health and to ensure proper patient care. Republic Acts 3720 and 9711, or the “Food, Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics Act” and the “Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009”, respectively, vested the powers and responsibility to the Food and Drug Administration.

Today, cognizant of the fact that antimicrobial resistance is a major public health concern, the Department of Health has adopted the World Health Organization’s six-point policy package to combat AMR towards the development of a national policy to address the emergence of resistance in the use of antimicrobials in human and animal health, in partnership with all stakeholders.

With the renewed support and commitment in our fight to eliminate public health threats, such as malaria, schistosomiasis, filariasis, and rabies, we fully recognize the crucial role of government health policies in determining the efficacy of interventions to contain antimicrobial resistance.

All of us here today are given the unique opportunity to identify the gaps in government programs for control of AMR. One such gap is the need to create an overarching policy, making the containment of AMR a national priority.

I am glad that a Technical Working Group has prepared a draft Executive Order on the containment plan which will be presented to you for consideration today.

Allow me to congratulate the leadership of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine; our Natioanl Center for pharmaceutical Access and Management; the Department of Agriculture; and the World Health Organization for taking the initiatives on this significant gathering.

Thank you and mabuhay tayong lahat