Threats Posed By Anti-Microbial-Resistance Superbugs In Samoa Is Real

First symposium to address emergence of drug resistent bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites held in Apia

By Deidre Fanene 

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 11, 2016) – The threat posed by Anti-Microbial-Resistance (A.M.R) to Samoa is real.

The point was made by the Vice-Chancellor and C.E.O of Oceania University of Medicine (O.U.M), Toelafoa Dr. Viali Lameko during the 1st Annual Symposium for Antimicrobial Resistance conference held at Hotel Tanoa Tusitala.

Toleafoa was speaking about the country situational analysis on A.M.R at the conference. 

Antimicrobial resistance according to the W.H.O occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that render the medications used to cure the infections they cause ineffective. 

When the microorganisms become resistant to most antimicrobials they are often referred to as “superbugs”.

Toelafoa said A.M.R is no longer just a problem overseas. People of Samoa must be aware that it poses a serious threat to the economy and the health of the nation.

 “It is a threat now because we are seeing an increase in the trend of organisms that have been identified as resistant to antibiotics but their numbers are also increasing so that is a threat to us in health and the country as well,” he said.

During his presentation, he said A.M.R Organisms from the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital from the year 2014-2015 shows very alarming rates of resistance among some pathogens.

“However we don’t know how many deaths are caused by A.M.R each year,” he said.

“There is data on the causes of death from chest infection, sepsis, DIC, meningitis and D.F.S but A.M.R is never mentioned.”

Toleafoa also said that the main drivers of the A.M.R problem in Samoa are the Prescribers, Dispensers and the Receivers.

“I am referring to prescribers as doctors, if they prescribe inappropriately or give out antibiotics for the wrong reasons then that is the prescriber problem,” he said.

“Now the dispenser problem is for instance the pharmacist dispenses antibiotics without prescription or what we call over the counter dispensing of antibiotic, then that is a problem too.

“And thirdly it’s the receiver which is usually the patient. If the patient is given the right antibiotic for the right infection and for the right duration but the patient is not taking the antibiotic at the right time and at the right situation, then that is a problem. These three groups of people have and must work together.”

He said there is no need to point the finger to just one group.

“We can’t just pinpoint that the doctors are the problem, no, we have to include the prescribers the dispensers and the receivers to tackle this problem,” he said.

“The overall outcome that we need to see from this symposium is to finalise an action plan on A.M.R for Samoa not from W.H.O or C.D.C America or anywhere else.”

Toleafoa said the Ministry of Health and the National Health Services is trying to work on an action plan to stop the problem.

“We are trying to work on that action plan so that we can put a halt or at least reverse the problem of A.M.R in Samoa,” he said,

“The last thing that we want is after twenty years we see an increase trend of A.M.R in Samoa,” he said.

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