WPRO turning the spotlight to country activities
Lunchtime panel discussion with WHO Representatives
Friday 18 November 2016 - Manila, WHO Western Pacific Region Office
WPRO hosted a lunchtime session lead by Dr Vivian Lin, Director of the Division of Health Systems.
To highlight country commitments against antibiotic resistance a lunch time panel discussion took place in WPRO, with five WRs, coming from Cambodia, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Philippines, Samoa and Viet Nam presenting on some of their countries initiatives on AMR and raising awareness .
WR Cambodia – Dr Yunguo Liu, declared that this year's Cambodia's emphasis for this year's awareness week was "to raise awareness among the public and professionals". This year, several technical groups composed of members of Ministry of Health and other relevant sectors, worked closely together to conduct high level discussions and activities to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance. The Cambodian Antibiotic Awareness Week will take place in December and will start with an opening ceremony in the presence of the Honourable Minister of Health on 12 December 2016.
Dr Pieter Van Maaren, WHO representative PNG, the second panelist, informed the audience of how challenging it is to work in such a diverse country as PNG where only 40% of the population is literate. PNG is deeply affected by multi drug resistant TB, which PNG is greatly concerned about and serves as "an entry point to mobilize awareness on AMR." Dr Pieter Van Maaren highlighted various awareness raising activities that led up to its celebration of World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) including the traditional Sunday "walk for life." This 6km walk along the seaside, is a growing event and was turned into the walk against AMR for this particular occasion.
Philippines WR, Dr Gundo Weiler then took the floor, he reminded the audience that Philippines was one of the first countries to engage in the war against AMR, by implementing the very first national surveillance system of the Western Pacific Region twenty eight years ago. Thanks to the data collected since then, the system is now an essential tool in clinical decisions taking and in developing guidelines to tackle AMR.
Developed in 2014 and launched in 2015, during the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week, the Philippines National Action Plan started its implementation this year with the launch of concrete toolkit on AMR that were unveiled during the Philippines summit against AMR in
2016. The Toolkit is composed of three main documents: the National Antibiotics Guidelines, the Manual of Procedures in Implementing Antimicrobial Stewardship in Hospitals, and the Methods Guide for Antimicrobial Use Monitoring.
Dr Gundo Weiler, also emphasized that the fight against AMR is not won yet and that "we would need an antibiotic resistance year", a week is not enough to change the population mindset. Engaging the general public in a long term process is essential to achieve cultural change required to combat AMR. Currently one of the biggest challenges faced by the health-care professionals is how to manage patients' expectations. Dr Gundo Weiler compared doctors to business men that unfortunately need to satisfy their clients.Changing the general public perception is the next challenge.
"Viet Nam has a very particular commitment for antimicrobial resistance", Dr Lokky Wai, WR Viet Nam, reminded the audience that Viet Nam was one of the first countries to develop an AMR action plan with a great leadership of government officials who acted as AMR defenders, however, "We need to go beyond the Champion level to raise awareness among the public."
Because Viet Nam is one of the largest food producer in the Western Pacific Region, the country has the collaboration of multiple sectors including human health, agriculture, trade, industry and the environmental to reach a national commitment and facilitating the coordination of partners in the development and implementation of the national action plan.
Dr Baoping Yang, WR Samoa, highlighted Samoa's community-based approach to raising awareness against antibiotic resistance. As Samoa is a small island nation with a heavy emphasis on community values, the WHO country office and the Ministry of Health have decided to focus the campaign efforts and initiatives involving communities and conducting a "very practical campaign" reaching women and church representatives. The country particularly focuses on women "who play a very critical role" in raising awareness in communities.
In terms of high level activities, Dr Baoping Yang, reported the launch of the AMR National Action Plan as well as the organisation of the Antimicrobial Resistance Symposium as key activities of this year's awareness week. Dr Yang acknowledged that "good progress has already been made" in the war against antibiotic resistance, however the engagement will go beyond the Antibiotic Awareness Week to working on the implementation of the National Action Plan.